The Hamster of the Baskervilles (Chet Gecko Series)

The Hamster of the Baskervilles (Chet Gecko Series)

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by Bruce Hale

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Chet's two scariest, silliest cases--now in paperback!
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Chet's two scariest, silliest cases--now in paperback!

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Another pun-filled Chet Gecko mystery finds our hero stalking the culprit who trashed Mr. Ratnose's classroom. His reward, if successful, will be two "get-out-of-detention-free" passes and a box of jelly doughnuts, high stakes for the ever-hungry Chet. Soon a second mystery presents itself, as one of the teachers believes she saw a werewolf, or at least a were-hamster. Are the two conundrums related? On the way to solving the mysteries, Chet and his mockingbird sidekick, Natalie Attired, tangle with the tough-guy gang at school and try to complete their Science Fair project. Actually, Chet tries to dodge any involvement in schoolwork, if at all possible. Written in the style of a hard-boiled detective novel but laced with groaners and side-splitting puns, the book is a delight for adults as well as children. Even the chapter headings are funny, from "Hairy Plotter" to "Ferret Faucet." Pencil illustrations are sprinkled throughout. 2002, Harcourt, Judy Rowen
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Chet returns for his fifth case, when his classroom is wrecked and he is offered two get-out-of-detention-free cards and a box of jelly doughnuts to find the culprit. The zany text reads like a mixture of stand-up comedy, Raymond Chandler mysteries, old films, and a fourth grader on an overdose of sugar. In order to solve the case Chet and his bird partner, Natalie Attired, infiltrate the Dirty Rotten Stinkers gang to find out more about suspects Erik Nidd, a tank-sized tarantula, and Bosco Rebbizi, a "surly ferret with a chip on his shoulder the size of a redwood tree." A werewolf is sighted and the playground has large tunnels in it. Chet interviews the librarian, an opossum who is an expert on the supernatural and talks like a Beat hipster from the 1950s. Plot development is not built steadily with the finding of clues, and the ending is sudden and contrived. However, the irresistible wordplay and punny humor may elicit giggles from many readers. Illustrations are adequate, but they don't have the originality and appeal of the text.-Debbie Stewart, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

Raves for Chet Gecko
The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse "Zesty and entertaining."--The Bulletin

The Mystery of Mr. Nice
"Hold on to your fedoras: this gecko's going places."--Kirkus Reviews
Farewell, My Lunchbag

"Fodder for budding criminologists and stand-up comedians. . . . Sassy."--School Library Journal

The Big Nap
"Fast-paced suspense and snappy dialogue. . . . A choice series for reluctant readers."--Booklist

The Hamster of the Baskervilles
"The zany text reads like a mixture of stand-up comedy, Raymond Chandler mysteries, old films, and a fourth grader on an overdose of sugar."--School Library Journal

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Product Details

Publication date:
Chet Gecko Series, #5
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


A Heck of a Wreck

Some Mondays drag in like a wet dog, dripping puddles of gloom and trailing a funky stink. (Actually, at my school most Mondays are like that.)

But this Monday opened with a bang, like a fat frog fired from a circus cannon. And, like that frog, it turned into an ugly mess quicker than you can say ribbet-ribbet-splat.

No clue tipped me off as I trotted through the gates of Emerson Hicky Elementary mere minutes before the morning bell. One more tardy slip and I'd win a one-way trip to detention with the Beast of Room 3-not my idea of a dream vacation.

I dodged and darted down the halls past other stragglers, trying to beat the clock.

A sleepy second grader wandered into my path. Dazed as a meerkat on a merry-go-round, she stumbled along toward her classroom.


I planted my hands on her shoulders and vaulted over the little shrew easy as slurping a gypsy-moth milk shake. My feet pounded onward.

Rounding the last corner, I was running full tilt-only seconds to go!

Mr. Ratnose's classroom loomed ahead. I bounced off the bright-orange door and skidded for my seat just as the bell went rrriinnnng!

And I would've made it, too, if not for Bitty Chu, the gopher.


Like a crazy cue ball, I hit her at top speed, ricocheted into Waldo the furball, and sprawled across Shirley Chameleon's desk. Private eye in the corner pocket.

Shirley blinked down at me. I tipped my hat.

"Hey, green eyes," I said suavely, "did you get the answer to that second homework problem?"

Shirley snorted and tossed her head.

"What's up, buttercup?" I said. "You've gone all yellow around the edges."

And she had. One thing about chameleons, there's never a dull-colored moment.

"Use your private eye, wise guy," she said.

Since when would Shirley skip a chance to flirt like the cootie machine she was? Something was rotten in the state of Ratnose.

I raised my head and checked out my fourth-grade classroom.

My jaw dropped. I didn't pick it up.

Mr. Ratnose's room was a mess. No-more than a mess, it was the Cadillac of cruddiness, the Titanic of trash, the Grand Canyon of chaos. If that mess were a monument, it'd be the Statue of Litterty.

Desks lay tumbled around the room like blocks in a cranky preschooler's playpen. Half-eaten papers covered the floor. Deep gashes raked the walls. A handful of seeds was scattered by the door. The seeds of destruction, maybe?

Most of my classmates stood gaping, saucer eyed in amazement.

Bitty Chu tearfully fingered a wad of shredded paper. "Somebody's been munching on my math quiz."

Waldo the furball ran a finger along his toppled chair. "Somebody's been slobbering on my seat."

I noticed a jagged cut on the wall had mutilated my latest masterpiece, a safety poster. Somebody'd been slashing up my artwork-and I guessed it wasn't Goldilocks.

What twisted hoodlum was responsible?

Mr. Ratnose stood knee-deep in the mess. His eyes were round as doughnuts, with a dollop of bitter chocolate in the middle. He sputtered like a deranged sprinkler head. Finally he choked out, " this?"

Nobody moved, nobody spoke.

"Who wrecked my classroom?" he asked.

Bo Newt nudged me. "Whoever it was, he had monster feet," he whispered. "I'd hate to have to shop for his tennies."

I looked at the muddy footprints. Bo was right. Whoever had made those tracks would wear shoes big enough for the football team to float downstream in.

"Who spoke?" said Mr. Ratnose. "Chet Gecko? Do you know something?"

With you as a teacher? ran through my mind.
But for once, I passed up an easy joke. "No, Mr. Ratnose."

Mr. Ratnose's whiskers quivered like an overstrung banjo. He paced up the aisle to me, wringing his paws. "You're some kind of detective," he muttered. "Can't you find out who did this?"

I tilted my hat back and gazed up at him. "I'm some kind of detective, all right-the kind that likes to get paid. If I track down this goon, what's in it for me? Can I get out of doing my science project?"

"No," said Mr. Ratnose.

"Can I get free lunches for a month?"

"Not likely," said Mr. Ratnose.

"Can I-"

"How about two get-out-of-detention-free cards and a box of jelly doughnuts?"

"Done," I said. "Mr. Ratnose, I'm your gecko."

Copyright © 2002 by Bruce Hale

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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