cover image Hamsters Make Terrible Roommates

Hamsters Make Terrible Roommates

Cheryl B. Klein, illus. by Abhi Alwar. Dial, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-32423-3

“I don’t bother HIM,” says Henry the hamster of his intolerably exuberant cage roomie, Marvin. “Why won’t he do the same for ME?” Finally, Marvin’s intrusive cheer (“Seeds! Seeds are my favorite!”) and ceaseless chatter (even with a mouth full of the beloved seeds) cause Henry to blow his top. Thanks to funny, cleverly building dialogue by Klein (A Year of Everyday Wonders), he does so in a marvelously performative way: “You have seeds EVERY DAY. They can’t be your favorite if you NEVER HAVE ANYTHING ELSE!” Debut illustrator Alwar creates two highly and equally expressive rodent protagonists—Henry’s looks of browbeaten disdain are matched page for page by Marvin’s wide-mouthed enthusiasm—and readers should get a tickle out of how the freewheeling digital compositions open up the tiny world of the hamster cage in unexpected ways. While the story could be read as a guide for détente between introverts and extroverts, any two personality types could benefit from the skillfully rendered and touching wrap-up: Henry and Marvin realize that both need to stop assuming each knows what the other wants, and establish some ground rules. Or, as Henry says with neat eloquence, “Maybe if we talk more, we can be quiet more too.” Ages 3–7. [em]Agent (for Klein and Alwar): Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (Aug.) [/em]