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Davies, Katie. The Great Hamster Massacre; illus. by Hannah Shaw. Beach Lane/Simon, 2011. 177p. Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4424-2062-5 $12.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4424-3320-5 $8.99 R Gr. 3-5.

Although she is supposed to be writing her What-I-Did-On-My-Summer-Vacation assignment, nine-year-old Anna has another tale to tell, one that is far more grim and, as the title hints, documents the grisly deaths of a few furry rodents. It begins with yet another untimely demise: when Old Cat meets his end under the wheels of a car, Anna finds herself unhappy with his replacement, the snarling New Cat, and begs her mother for another, softer, kinder pet. After much begging, Anna is the proud new owner of two hamsters, both supposedly female—an assumption that is later proven wrong when Anna discovers eight new bundles of hamster joy in their cage. Sadly, the little ones are not long for this world, and when Anna finds the baby hamsters bloodied and dead along with a half-chewed up mama hamster, the investigation begins. Sure, there's a bit of gore and a rather odd spate of bad luck in the pet-owning department, but the humor here is spot-on, particularly in Anna's accessible and charmingly matter-of-fact narration, tempering the more sensitive aspects of the story. The list of suspects in the crime includes, in the best British mystery tradition, a host of eccentric characters from Anna's neighborhood, from the over-the-top, trash-obsessed Mr. Tucker to the animal-hating father of Anna's best friend. The title is probably enough to warn off fans of warm fuzzies, [End Page 515] but for young readers who can handle a bit of the macabre with their giggles, this strange little tale will be perfectly appealing.



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pp. 515-516
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