Sunday, July 02, 2017

Squirrels, Hamsters, and Dogs

O'Donnell, Tom. Miller, Tim (Illus.) Hamstersaurus Rex vs. Squirrel Kong
June 27th 2017 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by the publisher for Young Adult Books Central

Sam and his friend Dylan aren't quite in the clear after the events of Hamstersaurus Rex, especially when there is an attack on their school, and Hammie is blamed. The Principal Truitt wants to locate him to the Irma Bergstrom Memorial Home for Troubled Small Pets, based on the video footage that Sam was taking for his Chinchillazilla vs. MechaChinchillazilla movie, but Sam knows the truth-- the school is being menaced by a giant, ferocious squirrel. While Hammie would savage a bag of Funchos Spicy Wasabi and French Onion Flavor-Wedges, he's a good hamstersaurus at heart. Dylan is preparing for the big disc golf tournament so that the Maple Bluffs Discwhippers can trounce their opponents, but Sam has seen suspicious activity involving a quadcopter spraying Funchos dust and encouraging Squirrel Kong to attack. He suspects the SmilesCorp is involved, and when he breaks into their secret lab, he finds an unlikely ally, as well as proof that some of the adults in Maple Bluffs are hiding big secrets. Can Sam, with the help of Hamster Monitor and generally brilliant go-to doll docent Martha, figure out how Squirrel Kong evolved and manage to save Maple Bluffs as well as Hammie?

O'Donnell has a real way with words, and I would have laughed even if this were just a list of funny phrases; I totally needed a PETCATRAZ cage when my daughter had Gimli, her dwarf hamster! From Sam's mother calling him Bunny Butt to the doll in the museum made of beef jerky, this book kept me snorting from the random, funny descriptions and names. Combine this with Tim Miller's excellent depictions of a giant, ravenous squirrel and twitchy, ever-ravenous hamstersaurus, and there's a laugh on every page.

Sam's single minded determination to save Hammie and to do the right thing keeps this from being completely silly. He is often conflicted-- SmilesCorp is mutating animals, but his mother works there. He has promised Dylan he'll be at her tournament, but he has to save the town from destruction. Even his dealings with the reformed Beefer Vanderkoff show a maturity and gentleness of spirit that would seem wildly out of place amongst all of the slapstick humor if it weren't so endearing.

Readers who can appreciate Stick Dog's humane manipulation of his less-than-intelligence friends or revel in the deeper thematic undercurrents of justice inherent in Captain Underpants will find Sam and his sidekick to be as mouth wateringly awesome as a bag of Maple Syrup and Pickles Funchos. Remember, it's the Partially Hydrogenated Frog Chromosome Extract that makes them extra tasty!

33517578Cameron, W. Bruce. Molly's Story (A Dog's Purpose Novel)
July 4th 2017 by Starscape Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

C.J. is frequently neglected by her mother, Gloria, who is much more interested in dating and going on fancy trips than she is with making sure C.J. goes to school regularly. When her friend, Trent, gets a dog from a neighborhood woman who rescues them, C.J. is immediately taken with Molly and eventually decides that she will take the dog home and hide her from Gloria. Molly adores C.J. and is willing to spend her days in a closet under the stairs as long as she can snuggle with her girl occasionally. In order to be with her dog, C.J. frequently skips school. Eventually, Gloria finds out about both the truancy and the dog. She tries to turn Molly over to another rescue, but since Molly is microchipped, C.J. gets her back. Eventually, C.J. runs away from home and she and Molly spend several weeks couch surfing before the two return to Gloria and try to work out system that will make everyone happy.
Strengths: Like Bailey's Story and Ellie's Story, this has an appealing cover and a standard dog's-eye-view type of story. It's nice that the books don't need to be read in order, and I was especially fond of this one, because Molly looks a lot like Sylvie when she was a chocolate brown puppy!
Weaknesses: C.J. was not very likable, her mother should have been turned in to Children's Services, and Molly was not treated well.
What I really think: I'll buy a copy mainly for the cover, and because the other books have been popular, but I wasn't very happy with the story. It was just sad, but in a way that made me want to slap all of the characters.

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I don't really understand the draw on these dog's purpose books. They are super popular at my son's bookfair, but the kids mostly seemed to want them because they were popular. (and for the covers). Thanks for the honest reviews.