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Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania!: Cynthia Lord and Derek Anderson

Book: Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania
Author: Cynthia Lord
Illustrator: Derek Anderson
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

Cynthia Lord and Derek Anderson's lovable Hot Rod Hamster is back for a new adventure in Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania!. When Hamster and his friend Dog attend the Monster Truck Rally and carnival, the speed-loving Hamster wants to try everything. His goal is figure out which is the BEST attraction. The one that turns out to be the winner is a surprise for everyone, especially Dog. 

As with the other books in the series, the beauty of this book lies in Hamster's enthusiasm. On the very first page spread, when Dog says that they have a bit of time, and asks Hamster what he wants to do, Hamster cries: "RIDES!". The big letters, the bold font, and the image of Hamster leaping up from the ground, arms in the air, all combine to show young readers how Hamster feels. When Hamster has a choice of boats on one ride, we already KNOW that he's going to want the pirate boat. And if the bumper cars include a race car option, well... He's like an excited preschooler, but round and furry. 

Dog, meanwhile is the perfect sensible counterpart, and the character that parents will relate to. He weaves coming off of the teacups, and keeps track of how much time is left. He heads into the stadium early, to make sure they get good seats, and then laments when he thinks that his friend is missing the show. The mice make an appearance also, and, as in the other books, play a silent but pivotal helper role. 

Cynthia Lord's bouncy, rhyming text makes for a fun read-aloud:

"Truck day, treat day, cotton-candy sweet day.
Fun day, fair day, music in the air day."


"Sports car, race car, fun in outer space car.
Cop car, mail car, make the siren wail car.
Which would you choose?"

Interspersed between the rhymes are bursts of punchy dialog, with Hamster's words dramatized by color and fonts. Derek Anderson's illustrations are colorful and chaotic, and capture the feel of a fair perfectly. The actual monster truck scenes are vibrant enough to almost make this adult reader a tiny bit motion sick. 

My daughter and I both greeted the arrival of this book like an old friend had come to visit. Monster Truck Mania did not disappoint. A must-read for Hamster fans, and a sure winner with carnival and/or car-loving kids. I hope that we'll see Hamster back in the future for many more adventures. Vroom! Vroom!

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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