My eight-year-old really wants a hamster. She asks every once in a while, and we go to the pet store to see them every chance we get. She doesn’t whine about it, but she brings home a school library book about hamsters every single week. Her approach is to wear me down slowly, and with books. Clever plan. I’ve told her that she could have a hamster if she could manage to take care of herself without constant reminders to brush her hair, put on her socks, and eat her breakfast. We’ll see how that goes. I actually wouldn’t mind a hamster. Neither would the cats.
So when I saw The Great Texas Hamster Drive, by Eric Kimmel, at ALA, I had to have it. It looked like it combined two great things: hamsters and that Superbowl commercial where the cowboys were rounding up cats. I loved that commercial. Anyway, I requested a copy of The Great Texas Hamster Drive from the publisher, got it, loved it, and forgot to mention it. Until now.
Honestly, I don’t know what I’ve got in my bag of tricks that is a better recommendation than what I’ve already said in the preceding paragraph. Because kids love hamsters, adults love that cat herding commercial, and everyone loves Eric Kimmel. Oh, it’s also an original tall tale, and teachers love tall tales, particularly if they are part of the curriculum like they are here. Even the cover is its own sales pitch, what with the cute hamsters all over everything, including the horse’s face.
In the story, Pecos Bill and Slue Foot Sue have four boys and one girl, and they all work together on the ranch. Being the only girl, and the youngest, Sue tends to get what she wants... and she wants a hamster. So the little mouse-like creature is ordered from Chicago and since one would get lonely, they get two. Of course, two turn into five, and then fifteen, and then twenty-eight. The brothers build bigger cages to hold them all, but not well-structured cages, because the little guys get out and head out on the range. Left out on their own, they take over the prairie by the thousands. So it’s time to round them up and send them to the city kids, where they can all find homes.
I loved the story. Lots of fun. The illustrations by Bruce Whatley were just perfect, with wonderful watercolor images of the horses rounding up the hamsters, close-ups of the little hamsters out in front of the pack, and funny views of the hamsters in underground tunnels. Maybe someone you know won’t be getting a hamster anytime soon, but sure as shooting, they’ll love this book. Yee-haw!