The Great Hamster Massacre
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The Great Hamster Massacre (Animal Antics / Critter Capers)

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3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  223 ratings  ·  58 reviews
A bittersweet domestic tale about a young girl and her quest for a pet - refreshingly real and hilariously funny.
Paperback, 178 pages
Published October 10th 2009 by Simon & Schuster
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Alison
A lot of adults are not going to like this book. It's not for the faint of heart and not for those squeamish about death. There are a few bits in the book that are going to offend no small number of people looking for choice chapter books that would make a good fit for their 2nd - 4th graders -- an elderly neighbor says "Hell" a number of times; the kids refer often to a book that belonged to one of their mothers and which astute adult readers will probably assume contains some sexual content (h...more
Chelle Folts
I decided to read this before my 8 year old did so we could discuss it when he finished. The characters were very likeable and felt real. The gruesome subject matter was dealt with well——death is a reality, but not to be taken lightly. In the case of the massacre, the children didn't just take the words of the adults as fact, but decided to do their own investigation. They cared about what really happened. I don't agree with other reviewers that it made pets seem replaceable. The many references...more
Karen
I fell short on my job as a librarian and a mom here. I usually know so much more about the books in my library, but when my son picked this one out to read, I just assumed it was another silly chapter series starter and okayed it for him without paying much attention. That's not it at all. It's a book about loss. And there is a lot of loss: Loss of a grandparent, loss of pets (many pets), loss of a step-parent. Some of the loss is through death and it is extremely graphic- downright gruesome, e...more
JenniferJ
I am really kind of on the fence over this book. On the one hand it was a quick child's story, told thru the "language" of a child, about finally getting a pet hamster and all the responsibilities of taking care of a pet but on the other hand I found it quite graphic as it paints a significant picture of the deaths of past pets and even a section that made me want to puke when they dug up a dead animal to rebury it more proper. It was just ewwww. Maybe I am wrong in feeling as I do but I just do...more
Thalestral
1 star. While this is a colourful book that I'm sure will attract lots of children to wanting to read it, this is not a book I will ever recommend. It fully promotes the idea that small animals are disposable pets, and that when they die through ignorance and lack of care they are easily replaced with new versions, with little need to grieve over the deaths or learn from mistakes made. I also think that children who have a genuine love for small animals will find this book upsetting as the death...more
Raina
Wow, this is British. You can completely hear Anna's voice jump off the page at you as she describes her world.

My primary complaint here is that the cover makes it look like a wacky illustranovella comedy. And while there are definitely funny parts, and the voice is generally light, this is pretty much completely about grieving. And dealing with death. The violence comes out of the blue and pulls no punches.

And the mystery is (view spoiler). The investigation...more
Tamsyn Murray
A funny and fabulous story of Anna's traumatic discovery one morning in her hamster cage. Death, loss and friendship are key themes in this very honest book told endearingly from a nine year old's perspective.
Edward Sullivan
Fun, fast, frequently dark-humored and macabre reading.
Dolly
Aug 01, 2014 Dolly rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children starting to read longer chapter books
This is the first book in the Animal Antics/Critter Capers series by Katie Davies and Hannah Shaw. The story is humorous, in a British sort of way, and I love the candid tone of the narrative, as if Anna is writing in a diary. I like that the story provides a child's perspective on tough situations, like death.

The story is an entertaining, fast read and the black and white illustrations really complement the narrative. The book reminds me of the Just Grace series by Charise Mericle Harper. Our y...more
Sps
Jun 21, 2011 Sps rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: elem, story
Review for work:

This is written in the voice of a 9-year-old, with lots of dialogue with colorful adult relatives and neighbors, and some of the humor seemed to derive from a kid’s take on a situation which an adult reader would see differently. But the point is what kid readers would think, isn’t it?

The narrative voice says “me and Suzanne” frequently when “Suzanne and I” would be correct, and starts many, many sentences with “so” or “and,” which became a little tiresome. And it was slightly d...more
Rachel
Anna is a nine-year old girl with a five-year old little brother named Tom. They both really want a hamster for a pet. Their parents have told them no multiple times but after Anna and Tom’s grandmother dies, they give in and get her two Russian dwarf hamsters. Things are going great until one morning Anna wakes up to find one hamster wounded, one hamster missing and eight dead baby hamsters in the cage. Anna, Tom and their friend Suzanne launch an investigation to find out who massacred the ham...more
Jenny / Wondrous Reads
The Great Hamster Massacre isn't a YA book, but it won the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize this year, so I was eager to give it a go and see just why it's so highly regarded.

Putting myself in a 9-year-old's shoes for a minute, I can see why they'd love this twisted tale of dead hamsters and detective-style investigations. It's fast-paced, fun and informative, and even a little gruesome in parts, which should go down well with the boys. It's accompanied by some lovely illustrations drawn by Ha...more
Nola
I'm using my review to answer the comments I've read that are looking at this book negatively:
(view spoiler)...more
Julie
Aug 27, 2011 Julie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: kids
This book had a lot of promise: my 7 year old daughter was intrigued, of course, by the silly cover, but also by the title. First of all, kids love hamsters. "Great" promises some kind of romping caper. The "massacre" part, in conjunction, seems like just the kind of overstatement kids are all about. This was a book I ended up reading aloud to her, mostly because I was concerned about the "massacre". Unfortunately, the story mostly fell completely apart. The run-on sentences, structured in exact...more
Woodge
Needed another read-aloud book for bedtime and this was available at the local library. (Boy, I seem to be plowing through read-aloud books lately.) This is a cute, breezy tale narrated by a young pre-teen girl who has to write a "What I Did Last Summer" essay for school. Instead, she recounts the tale of a disaster with hamsters and her investigation into it. It's a very light tale especially for one that includes death in the story. There's a good sense of humor in it too. As I read it, I beca...more
Louise (A Strong Belief in Wicker)
I had vaguely seen this book around and about but decided to read it after I read an article about Alan Davies and learnt that his wife was a children's book author. Narrated by 9 year old Anna who longs to have a hamster but she can't because of The New Cat, who is a bit of a hunter. Hamsters do come along though and there is indeed a hamster massacre. Not intentional of course. Anna and her brother Tom mount an investigation into the hamster massacre. There are touching family moments, and at...more
Renee
May 17, 2012 Renee rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: paw
Summary: After a long pestering campaign, nine-year-old Anna and her younger brother Tom finally get a pair of hamsters, but when the pets are found mysteriously dead, the siblings and neighbor Suzanne launch an investigation throughout their neighborhood.

I read this to see if it should get a humor label or a mystery label. Definitely a HUMOR label. It did have me laughing out loud a couple of times. The mystery part - trying to figure out who killed the hamster babies and bit off half of the ol...more
Aimee
When I first saw the cover of this book I knew it could go one of two ways; it would either be a weird story that turned the death of hamster humorous or it would be an awkwardly gross book about the death of hamster. I was hoping it would be the first one, but sadly the book was just gross.

I have no idea what kid would like this book. Yes there are parts of the book that some kids might find funny, but there is a lot of animal death and even a human death. I feel like this book might just be h...more
Dana
This book is hard to rate. On the one hand I thought it was well written and was a quick fun read. On the other hand there is a lot of hamster death. While the story seems like it is going to be about solving the answer of who murdered the hamster/hamsters the author ends without the characters actually finding out. My eleven year old found this very annoying, but from an adult's perspective it wasn't all that important. The story is really about a quirky family and some neighborhood kids.

I pro...more
Jenna
Although a bit macabre, this is a pretty funny book for kids. A parent at the library recommended it to me the other day as a good read-aloud, and I agree. I think there's plenty for adults to enjoy, though it may be traumatic if one has experienced a childhood small pet being gnawed on by its cagemate. ;)
Caitlintobin
This is one of those graphic novel/journal style books. The main character is supposed to be writing a story about what she did over the summer, and it turns into this book.

The poor grammar (which is supposed to mimic the voice of roughly an 8-year old?) kills me. Every other line is, "me and Tom."

SPOILER ALERT: The kids beg their mom to get a hamster, and she finally gives in after the grandmother dies, then the hamster has babies, and the male eats the babies and escapes never to be seen aga...more
Bethany
Oh, gee, I thought this book was hilarious, and I'm pretty sure a lot of kids will think so, too. It's in the style of Diary of a Wimpy Kid--first person, doodles on the side, and that's usually enough to send a book right out the door.

A few things to be aware of before handing it over to a child/parent: there's death--oh, a lot of it, mostly hamster/small pet type, but one human. There's apparently some mild swearing (the word "hell"), but honestly, I didn't notice that. There's references to...more
Maria
I agree with the other comments that this book (and the series, we have read all four) is not for the faint of heart. Clearly the British approach children's books a bit differently. That being said, both my older boys loved this series as did I. We have always read them together, so that we were able to discuss the issues that came up. My boys enjoyed the main characters (girls) and the overall stories. It provides a lot of points for discussion so make sure that you can read with them. Be warn...more
Rhi Egan
This was one of me most enjoyable books when I was younger even though there were gruesome parts I would love to read it again
Cathlin
Funny and definitely appealing to kids, although they may not pick up on some of the subtle humor.
Marsha
Written from the point of view of a nine year old, this book is really funny. Anna has always wanted a pet, and she finally gets two "female" hamsters. A couple of months later, eight baby hamsters are born, but the next morning they are dead, the mom hamster's leg is gone, and the other hamster is missing. Anna and her best friend decide to investigate and find out who or what is behind the massacre. It sounds pretty macabre, and it kind of is, but everything is handled with the grace and matte...more
Karen Arendt
The narrator, Anna, a 9-year-old girl retells the story of how she wanted a hamster, got a hamster, and then the hamster dies. Anna, along with her brother, Tom, and her friend Suzanne, launch an investigation in the "murder" of the hamsters. The story rambles with unrelated stories at times, which perfectly exemplifies how a 9-year-old would tell a story. The story is perfect for 3rd and 4th graders, though there are a few gruesome details about the "murder". Lots of doodle illustrations add to...more
Kathy
Anna is supposed to write a report on what she did on her summer vacation. Instead she writes a report on her hamster experience: from her initial ineffective pleadings to her mother, to the difficulties she faces, to the bloody deaths of 8 tiny hamster babies and mauling of their mother, to her solemn investigation into their deaths and eventual acceptance. Anna doesn't believe the vet when she says that the hamster mother probably killed her babies, so Anna, her little brother Tom and best fri...more
Dolores
3 1/2 stars. So, speaking as someone who had hamsters as a child (AND who had a hamster eat her litter once,) I'm not so sure this is a book I would have wanted to read when I was a kid. It's kind of sick, actually. BUT, having said that--I liked it, but I'm not sure why. It's kind of quirky, in that British way. It probably has boy appeal, but only for the non-squeamish among them. This is definitely a "truth-in-advertising" kind of title.
Rosalie
Although I understand that this book is written from the point of view of a nine year old I don't believe the content is entirely appropriate for that age.

While there is some humor the story largely focused on death. There's nothing wrong with that but this was much more descriptive than I feel comfortable giving at 8-10 year old. The book's age range is 8-12. I wound keep it towards the 11-12s.
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