cover image Daydreams of a Solitary Hamster

Daydreams of a Solitary Hamster

Astrid Desbordes and Pauline Martin, trans. from the French by Claudia Bedrick, Enchanted Lion, $17.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-59270-093-6

Charming full-color drawings highlight this first children's effort from French writer Desbordes and artist Martin. The adventures of Mole, Snail, Rabbit, Squirrel, and Hamster are visually childlike and clean, showing country scenes and pleasant interiors populated by animals whose characters come through with engaging simplicity. Desbordes's background as a philosopher shows in her aphoristic one–to-two-page segments consisting more of whimsical rumination than story. Kids who favor some internal monologues will most appreciate stories where concepts like "loyalty" and "prudence" are tossed off without explanation. A gag about polite self-consciousness shows Hamster addressing an invitation to "Dearest Rabbit," then deciding it's too effusive; this might be funny to adults but it's hard to imagine it grabbing the young imagination. The difficulty is compounded by the awkwardness of the translation. Even an adult will take a moment to work through an introductory sentence like this one from Snail: "The best way for me not to be late for Hamster's party is to write down what I must not do." Ages 4–8. (July)