Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord

hot-rod-hamsterLynn: This big picture book with its bright colors and bold shapes has our focus group’s name written all over it. Hamsters, race cars, building stuff – I knew they would love this and I wasn’t wrong. The rollicking verse vrooms across the two page spreads with with speech bubbles adding to the fun. A refrain that asks, “What would you choose?” pulls the readers right into the story. The hamster, who wants to burn rubber, has to first build his car with the help of the junkyard denizens. Fat wheels or stud wheels, coil parts or straight parts? Then the race begins with hamster’s shiny new car looking awfully small beneath all those other big wheeled competitors.

Derek Anderson’s beguiling illustrations power Hot Rod Hamster (Scholastic 2010)  across the finish line. Readers – start turning the pages!

Cindy: Who doesn’t want to run with the big dogs?

Great day, grin day, build a car to win day,
Cheer day, chase day, gonna have a race day!

The enthusiasm of this little guy is infectious. I want flames on my car, too! Young readers will love being asked for their opinions, but who can argue with hamster’s choices?

I want the fat wheels. There’s more to squeal!

Between Lord’s child-centered fun text and Anderson’s perfectly jaunty illustrations (rats have never been more adorable), hamster is not the only winner here. Books like this make me long for my preschool storyhour days. I could build a whole program around this book and we’d all be drawing or making our own race cars by the end. Race out and get a copy of this and start your reading engines.


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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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