Hamstersaurus Rex

Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
October 04, 2016
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When a mysterious growling hamster appears at the back of his class, Sam knows just what to call him: Hamstersaurus Rex. Sam tries to protect Hammie from an overzealous Hamster Monitor, and from the meanest bully in the history of Horace Hotwater Middle School. The bully isn’t afraid of some weird little class pet. But maybe he should be. Hamstersaurus Rex is no ordinary hamster.

Editor review

1 review
More to this book than meets the eye
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
When a hamster appears randomly in Sam's 6th grade classroom, the students are excited, especially Martha, who appoints herself the "hamster monitor". When the hamster disappears, the teacher is relieved, but Sam keeps catching glimpses of the rodent. When he sees the animal ingest a large quantity of body building supplement, its name becomes more apt-- Hamstersaurus Rex grows a scaly tale and wicked teeth, and develops a voracious appetite. Sam tries to take good care of the hamster, but is thwarted by the sheer amount it eats, his mother's fur allergies, and its habit of disappearing at inopportune moments. Sam's difficulties with Kiefer "Beefer" Vanderkoff, the class bully, don't help, nor does Martha's interest in finding the animal or her attempts at befriending Sam and inviting him to visit the local doll museum with her... and to travel there on a tandem bicycle. Throw in a physical education competition and a forgotten science fair, and Sam's week has become VERY complicated.
Good Points
O'Donnell, who wrote the very original and amusing Space Rocks!, has created another humorous book full of lots of great lines and unusual situations. While I'm not a huge fan of stereotypical bullies who give smaller children "swirlies", Beefer takes this to a new level, adding pancake mix to the water, causing Sam to rock a "sad unicorn" hairdo for the day. He even considers adding cement mix, but that attempt doesn't end well! It's the little details that made me snort with laughter. Referring to food as "hamster-tricious AND hamster-licious" might be a short lived fad in my household, and I have to admit that I sort of want to smear white glue all over my face so I can "enjoy the sensation of peeling it off"!

The pictures added a lot to the story and will cause a lot of fans of Burnam's Teddy Mars,Lombardo's Mr. Puffball series and Fry's The Naughty List to pick it up. This is a rare book that mixes two very big elementary concerns (Hamsters! Dinosaurs!) in with a solidly middle school experience, making it perfect both for elementary students who are curious about middle school and middle school students who want some comfort reading that reminds them of a simpler time.

The best part of this book, though, was Sam. He was such a likable character, and his insistence in taking care of the hamster despite a number of difficulties was oddly touching. He was respectful in all of his dealings with classmates, even Beefer. I especially liked how he went to the doll museum with Martha because he had promised her, and how he reacts when his best friend, Dylan, brings him to task for not including her in his plans. Hamstersaurus Rex may seem very silly on the outside, but I appreciated the fact that it was also a very heartfelt book.
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