Travels of an Extraordinary Hamster

Astrid Desbordes, trans. from the French by Linda Burgess, illus. by Pauline Martin. Gecko Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $12.99 (126p) ISBN 978-1-9272-7183-4
In this companion to Diary of a Solitary Hamster (Enchanted Lion, 2010), six childlike animal friends—Mole, Bear, Snail, Squirrel, Rabbit, and Hedgehog—share a series of genial adventures. And then there’s Hamster, the gang’s snarky, narcissistic wise guy. “When I read a book,” rhapsodizes Mole, who has just written a novel, “it takes me far from this clearing and at the same time explains my life here. Do you know what I mean?” Hamster rolls his eyes. “Mole’s already lost her sight,” he says, addressing readers, “and now she’s losing her mind.” Martin’s sweet-tempered line drawings soften Hamster’s barbs, and the story’s other subplots give pleasure, too. When the group treks north to visit a polar bear, Mole and Hedgehog exchange tender confidences, and adventurous Snail, paddling a small kayak, befriends a whale. More reserved readers may wince at Hamster’s relentless thirst for adulation (“Now... my portrait adorns their buildings and monuments, even their dinner plates,” he writes after an imagined journey to the moon) while those accustomed to laughing at characters like The Office’s Michael Scott may find his monstrous self-love entertaining. Ages 7–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/15/2015
Release date: 09/01/2015
Genre: Children's
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