________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 9 . . . . January 3, 2003


My Pet Hamster. (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science. Stage 1).

Anne Rockwell. Illustrated by Bernice Lum.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 2002.
32 pp., pbk., cl. & lib. bdg., $ 7.99 (pbk.), $23.99 (cl.), $26.89 (lib. bdg.).
ISBN 0-06-445205-0 (pbk.), ISBN 0-06-028564-8 (cl.), ISBN 0-06-028565-6 (lib. bdg.).

Subject Headings:
Hamsters as pets-Juvenile literature.


Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by L.M. Sykes.

*** /4


A hamster is a kind of animal called a rodent. All rodents have large front teeth called incisors, soft fur, round eyes, and whiskers. Mice, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, guinea pigs, and gerbils are rodents, too. Every day I feed my hamster. It needs the hard food we get at the pet store to gnaw on with its sharp front teeth. If it didn't have hard food, those teeth would grow, and grow. My teeth and yours don't grow longer and longer, but rodent teeth do.

My Pet Hamster, written by Anne Rockwell, is part of the nonfiction “Lets-Read-And-Find-Out Science” series for young readers. As the title suggests, this book is an introduction to pets and pet care with some additional information about animal classification covered as well.

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     In My Pet Hamster, a young girl describes how she chose her hamster from the pet store, the items needed to care for the new pet, and the general appearance of hamsters. The focus then shifts to classifying hamsters as rodents, diet information and facts regarding their nocturnal behavior. The book concludes with a comparison of domestic and wild animals and some
follow up activities.

     My Pet Hamster is an informative and age-appropriate resource. The young reader is introduced to pet care and animal characteristics in clear, simple language with only two to four sentences per page. The book, written in the first person in a conversational style, uses the main character to convey her experiences as a pet owner and the many facts she has learned about hamsters. Rockwell has included a number of scientific terms, such as rodent, incisors, nocturnal, and domestic, that broaden the reader's understanding of animal classification. Each term is first defined and then a brief explanation follows.

     The information flows quickly from one fact to the next, and this, along with Bernice Lum's illustrations, holds the reader's attention. The illustrations are large, bright, and animated and work surprisingly well with the nonfiction text. Lum's bold drawings stand out against the white background making My Pet Hamster suitable for large group sharing.

     The final page includes four suggested follow up activities (e.g. List as many domestic animals as you can. Next to each animal's name put down how it helps people.) which could easily be done at home or in the classroom. A web site (www.letsreadandfindout.com) is also listed which parents or teachers could access to preview other titles in the series.

     With greater emphasis being placed on research skills in today's curriculum, educators would certainly want to provide students with nonfiction books containing actual photographs of hamsters and features such as a table of contents. However, My Pet Hamster makes a fine introduction to a unit on pets and would also be appreciated by any youngsters wishing to purchase their own hamster. Overall, a factual and fun read.


Lisa Sykes has worked as an early years teacher and teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB. She has recently relocated with her family to Barrie, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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