The Great Hamster Massacreby Katie Davies, Hannah Shaw
Anna and her brother, Tom, have always wanted a pet. And after their latest pestering campaign, their mother finally gives in and lets them choose a pair of hamsters from the local pet shop. But their happiness soon turns to horror when the hamsters are found mysteriously dead in their cage. Anna and Tom launch a full-scale investigation to determine who—or what… See more details below
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Anna and her brother, Tom, have always wanted a pet. And after their latest pestering campaign, their mother finally gives in and lets them choose a pair of hamsters from the local pet shop. But their happiness soon turns to horror when the hamsters are found mysteriously dead in their cage. Anna and Tom launch a full-scale investigation to determine who—or what—is behind the hamster homicides. Can they solve the case of the Great Hamster Massacre?
Katie Davies’ irresistibly funny mystery and Hanna Shaw’s spot-on illustrations combine for a quirky, delightful read that is part detective tale, part diary, and altogether hilarious.
"A flippy, fun and extremely fast-paced journey into the world of a very likable brother and sister--and their amusing family and friends. Intermittent silly pencil sketches fill the pages diary-style, creating a whimsical mood and adding comic relief.... Giggles are frequent among the kids in this book, and they will infect readers as well."
--BookPage, May 2011
"This British import is an interesting mix of British humor with serious issues interspersed.
Whimsical, cartoonish pen-and-ink illustrations accompany the story and help lighten the seriousness....This is the first in a series that will appeal to fans of Roald Dahl and Dick King-Smith."
--Booklist, July 1, 2011
"For young readers who can handle a bit of the macabre with their giggles, this strange little tale will be perfectly appealing."
--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July/August 2011
"An interesting take on how children deal with grief and shock.... Anna’s voice is engaging, and portrayals of various pets and neighbors (with accompanying hand-drawn side notes and cartoons) will entertain...give this dark comedy to reluctant readers, mystery lovers, and fans of narrator-illustrated fare like Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books or Tom Angleberger’s The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (2010, both Abrams)."
--School Library Journal, September 2011
Fans of Ivy and Bean will enjoy meeting their counterparts across the Pond: best friends and next-door neighbors Anna and Suzanne. Together, the girls sow happy chaos in their English village, along with Anna's little brother, Tom, Joe-down-the-street and assorted human and animal enablers. Anna, the narrator, has her heart set on a new pet. Their current one, New Cat, acquired to replace the more accommodating Old Cat (victim of a sad mishap), is fierce and unfriendly (handlers are advised to wear gardening gloves). A successful wheedling campaign and coincidental sad family event produce results: two hamsters, both certified (wrongly) as female. Ere long, a blessed event ensues. Like life, novels unfold while the characters—Anna, in this case—are busy making plans, and Anna's fountain of ideas convincingly tracks the busy 9-year-old mind down to the smallest, delightful detail. Inspired use of simple words, straightforward syntax and effective repetition make this a top pick for slow or reluctant readers. The art is clever, but the cartoonish style with limited affect might mislead readers expecting a Captain Underpants experience. Be warned: Under the plot's frothy surface lie serious depths (hint: Look at the title). An auspicious debut, with a sequel (The Great Rabbit Rescue) waiting in the wings.(Fiction. 8-12)
Read an Excerpt
What a Massacre Is
This is a story about me, and Tom, and our Investigation into the Hamster Massacre. I’m supposed to be writing my What-I-Did-On-My-Summer-Vacation story for school, but I’m going to write this story first because you should always write a Real Investigation up straight away. That’s what my friend Suzanne says. And Suzanne knows everything about Real Investigations. Mom said she didn’t think my teacher would like the story of my real summer vacation, and how the Hamster Massacre happened. She said, “Anna (that’s my name), some nice things must have happened this summer and if you can’t remember any, you can make some nice things up, and put them in your vacation report instead.”
Mom doesn’t think it matters if my Vacation Report isn’t exactly true, but Graham Roberts got in trouble last year when he put that he spent the whole vacation in the dog bed. His dog had died, so maybe he did stay in the dog bed all vacation, but Mrs. Peters said he must have come out to eat and go to the bathroom and things like that, and Joe-down-the-street told Tom he saw Graham at Scouts. And you can’t be in a dog bed there.
Tom is my little brother. I’ve got another brother too, and a sister, but they’re older than me and Tom and they don’t really care about hamsters much, so they’re not in this story. Tom is four years younger than me, except for a little while every year after he has his birthday, and before I have mine, when he is only three years younger. But most of the time he’s four years younger, so it’s best to say that.
Anyway, me and Tom are not supposed to talk about the hamsters and what happened to them anymore because it’s best to try to forget about it all, and stop exaggerating, and making it worse than it actually was, and all that. But we couldn’t do that anyway because massacres can’t really get any worse than they are. That is the point of them. This is what it says about massacres in my dictionary.…
massacre [mass-a-ker]noun a general slaughter of persons or animals: “the massacre of millions during the war”
The dictionary in Suzanne’s house said you could have another kind of massacre. It said …
massacre [mass-a-ker ]informal a bad defeat, especially in sports: “England was massacred 5–0 by France in the semifinal”
But the Hamster Massacre was not that kind of massacre. The Hamster Massacre was definitely a formal kind of massacre.
I will keep the story of the Hamster Massacre in the shed with the worms and the wasp trap and the pictures that we traced from Joe-down-the-street’s Mom’s book. Me and Suzanne have made a lock for the shed door, and we’ve got a new password. We are the only ones allowed in the shed, except when we let Tom in, but he gets bored when we are making the locks and deciding on the passwords and stuff, and he is too little for the pictures from Joe’s Mom’s book, so most of the time, when we go in the shed, Tom goes in the house and has a cookie.
© 2010 Katic Davics
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