Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0

And you thought Cheeto dust was bad...

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?

Good Points
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!
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