Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: January 2
The Adventures of Beekle: An Unimaginary Friend: Dan Santat

Hot Rod Hamster and the Awesome ATV Adventure!: Cynthia Lord

Book: Hot Rod Hamster and the Awesome ATV Adventure!
Author: Cynthia Lord
Illustrators: Derek Anderson (cover) and Greg Paprocki (interior, based on Anderson's style) 
Pages: 32
Age Range: 5-7 (early reader, Scholastic Level 2)

My daughter and I have both enjoyed the Hot Rod Hamster picture books, by Cynthia Lord and Derek Anderson (see reviews here of the first book and of Hot Rod Hamster: Monster Truck Mania).  Now that my daughter is in the very earliest stages of learning to read, it's wonderful to learn that Hot Rod Hamster has launched an early reader series. The first book, which we read from a library copy, was Hot Rod Hamster and the Wacky Whatever Race! The second book, the one I am discussing here, is Hot Rod Hamster and the Awesome ATV Adventure!

The Awesome ATV Adventure! begins as Hamster and his friends set out one sunny day, looking for adventure. They soon encounter a sign for "Al's Awesome ATV Adventures", promising "Bumps! Jumps! Down and dirty fun!". Having lots of experience with Hamster's personality, my daughter and I knew immediately that he would be on board for some ATV riding. 

As in the picture books, the text in The Awesome ATV Adventure! includes a mix of dialog and narration, where the narration is in the form of asking the reader to choose between Hamster's next set of options. Like this:

Track wheeler.
More wheeler.

Which would you choose?'

My four year old enjoys both predicting what Hamster will choose and discussing what she would choose (often not the same thing). For example, when Hamster is given a choice of courses for his ATV ride, it's pretty clear that he is NOT going to take the safe little path through the woods, even if the very safety of this option is what appeals to my real-world child. 

This question structure works well in the early reader format. There's a fair bit of repetition (as in "wheeler" above), and there are also little pictures that go along with each choice, providing visual cues. The Awesome ATV Adventure! is still moderately challenging as early readers go, with words like "delighted" and "zooms". 

The Hot Rod Hamster readers are written by Cynthia Lord, but the books are "based on the art of Derek Anderson", rather than being fully illustrated by him. In this smaller, paperback format, I really don't think that I would have noticed any difference had I not been looking for it. If I look closely at The Awesome ATV Adventure!, I do note what may be a more limited range of facial expressions on Hamster vs in the picture books (here, he smiles throughout). But this seems reasonable to me, given the format, and given the dynamic nature of the book as a whole. 

Hot Rod Hamster and the Awesome ATV Adventure! is bright, engaging early reader that features a picture book character beloved by many preschoolers. Hamster in this new adventure retains his trademark enthusiasm for everything (especially speed), with only modest tweaks required to make the book work in an early reader format. Highly recommended for fans of the series, and a must-purchase for libraries and classrooms serving new readers. 

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).