CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 9 . . . . January 5, 2001
"Okay," he said, straightening up. "But listen, kids. You have to promise me that this hamster of yours will stay in your apartment, in its cage. If something goes wrong and my dad finds out about it, then we'll all be in trouble. Got it?"Abby, pet-sitter, volunteers to look after her classroom hamster for the week of spring break from school. Then she discovers she has to take Mr. Nibbles home--and pets aren't allowed in the apartment!
With help from her young pet-sitting partner, her sister Tess, and Mom, Abby gets permission to bring the animal home from the apartment building supervisor's son while his dad is away. Everything seems set for a great week--right?
Hamsters Don't Glow in the Dark is part of the Abby and Tess Pet-sitters series by Trina Wiebe. The cover of the book suggests by the expression on the girls' faces that the pet-sitters are in for a surprise with this job, and they are! Inside, the black and white sketches bring different events to life.
Filled with lots of facts about hamsters, this story also has a plot that works around the relationship of the two siblings, Abby and Tess. Much to Abby's dismay, once she brings Mr. Nibbles, the hamster, home, he won't let her feed him or even pet him. Of course, Tess steps in to take over.
This book, fourth in the series, displays the growing abilities of its writer. From one-dimensional characters which appeared in earlier books, both Abby and Tess exhibit more natural, well-rounded approaches to the world. From Abby's frustration with Tess's jumping into the street without looking at the story's opening, to Tess's tears at the end of the story because Abby ignores her, the girls are portrayed realistically.
The events of the story move along quickly with lots of momentum. Conversations are realistic. A family meal introduces the traditional lifestyle of the girls and their parents. While the setting of the story isn't vivid, it is, at least, somewhat visible.
Hamsters Don't Glow in the Dark has a nice, surprise ending that brings closure to the disagreements the sisters have during the story. I found it quite satisfying!
This book would be a good addition to a child's personal library, particularly if s/he enjoy pets. Part of the book's draw is the interactive web site (http://www.abbyandtess.com/) which provides additional activities and the chance for children to publish their own pet stories.
The book could be used in classrooms where a discussion of sibling relationships was being carried on, or it could be recommended to students who have problems, either with an older or younger sibling. It would also be interesting in classrooms that have hamsters or other pets.
Saskatchewan's Linda Aksomitis worked in K-12 school libraries for a decade before becoming an author herself. She also currently works in the field of online education.
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