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There's a Hamster in my Pocket Paperback – 6 Jan 2011
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'There's a Hamster in my Pocket' fairly fizzes off the page. No one better captures the realism of urban children's lives and weaves it with their inner worlds to such sparkling effect. (Dr Gillian Klein, editor of Race Equality Teaching and director of Trentham Books)
This is a buzzy good read, full of funny twists and turns that end up well. (Armadillo Magazine)
A very funny story with just enough suspense to keep the reader's attention. The characters are believable and children readily identify withtheir worries. A good book for children setting out to read chapter stories by themselves. (Parents in Touch)
A great read with short, illustrated chapters always ending on a cliffhanger and a neat, satisfying ending. (Carousel)
The book says a lot for friendship between the two different cultures as well as for family dynamics - what the children fear often turns out for the best, if only they new it! The ending of the book satisfies all parties, and will be enjoyed by readers. (School Librarian)
Examines friendship through mystery, humour and a menagerie of animals. (Shortlisted for 2011 Scottish Children's Book Awards) (TESS)
For newly confident readers, 'There's a Hamster in My Pocket' is just about perfect - a laugh-out-loud tale about pets, deadly curses and eccentric families. (Scotland on Sunday)
About the Author
Franzeska lives in the village of Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire, where she enjoys the wildlife, especially in the RSPB bird reserve. She's written over 25 books for children, and often uses shadow theatre to help people of all ages with their writing. She was Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the University of the West of Scotland in Ayr, helping students with their academic writing. Her books for Frances Lincoln are Sita, Snake Queen of Speed and There's a Hamster in my Pocket.
To follow Franzeska's blog, click here
Helen Bate is an exciting and versatile illustrator, who previously qualified as an architect. Her work for Frances Lincoln includes the Purple Class stories by Sean Taylor and Sita, Snake-Queen of Speed by Franzeska Ewart. She is also the publisher of Pictures to Share, a series of illustrated books for people with dementia. Her picture book ABC UK by James Dunn was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal. She currently lives in Cheshire.
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This story is told through the eyes of Yosser and it is about her family, her best friend Kylie and her family.
A simple story but it bounces along at a good pace. Its well written, definate plus for a childs story.
I liked this story and I can see how it will appeal to those aged 8 and upwards. Only 96 pages short, just the right length for those embarking on reading.
I got this for my 9 year old daughter, who read it at one sitting. She really enjoyed it, particularly identifying with Yosser's desire for a pet. She also identified with the friendship at the heart of the story.
The book would be fine for any child over 7, and I think one which girls would particularly enjoy. It is a paperback - but isn't particularly long, and would be ideal for those developing confidence in reading paperback books.
I would recommend it, and I'd like to see this one available in school libraries.
There's a hamster in my pocket was greeted with a big smile, (and they say never judge a book by its cover) some of the words were a little difficult for him and a little frustrating, not sure If the story needs to be about Franzeska who lives in the village of Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire, may be a simpler name and place would have been better, only my opinion, nothing negative intended.
The Story is very well written, it adds suspense, funny bits and emotions, which were all new to my little boy while he read it, I don't know If he got it all.
This is a very good children's book that we enjoyed, my son was amazed at how it made pictures and emotions all in his head, he is on the look out for the next Hamster in my pocket
The book starts with a chapter entitled "Beset with worries" where the worries of the narrator, Yosser, are outlined. Throughout the rest of the book she lets her worries escalate to get the better of her until the end when, of course, they are all resolved. And along the way the book also deals with relationships between friends and families, and pets, like the Hamster in the title of the book.
So the overall moral of the story is: do not worry because, more than likely, it'll be alright in the end.
"This is a book which concentrates on a girl and her best friend. There are family problems besetting both families who are otherwise trying lead normal lives. The book does well to humorously and lovingly describe the caring relationship between the characters as well as their concerns and interactions with their families. All turns out right in the end....."
However my full review as fitting to MY chosen title continues from there:
I venture that this book was targeted for the average young UK teenage girl. The material is standard fare and yet, character portrayal is truly sensitive and funny.
But there is minimal background information about the main character and her family themselves. It's as if the author has gone out of the way to not literally say that the narrator's family comes from the subcontinent. The book initially relies on several references to put this forward to the reader: the illustration (a simplistic one of two girls, one wearing a hijab), the name of the family store and Aunty Shabnam from Lahore.
You would almost guess that the narrator has two siblings, an older female on called Nani and a younger brother named Bilal by the interplay in the book. Several pages elapse before you actually get to know the narrator's name, which is casually put forward in dialogue with a whole bunch of other East Asian names. Near the end of the story, when Auntie Shabnam calls Nani "auntie", you have confirmation what a mess this book is. I am uncertain if a teenager who wasn't from the East Asian background would have the strength to carry through deciphering who's who. I myself had to put it down three times in the first reading.
Thankfully and funnily enough, there is no compunction to extend this head scratching to the best friend (Kylie Teasdale) whose background history in the first chapter clarifies even her pets.
There are some subplots that add to the story, eg Kylie's shifty older brother and his suspicious activities; the narrators longing for a substantial pet. Sadly these plots are transparent (the eponymous hamster in pocket episode) and the author seems to be taken in with her ability to story-tell her way out of anything (sneak a kitten down your clothing and see if your mother diagnoses you with constipation from the bulge).
Indeed after the second rereading (to make sure I wasn't overly critical) I got the impression that this story could have been plotted first and then as a twist, the main character and her family allocated a Pakistani heritage with all the appropriate trappings and details. I am fairly certain that this is done well and as a point of grace, the reader can feel the atmosphere. But its an atmosphere the reader is thrown into, akin to being forced to watch a passable Asian sitcom for the first time with minimal previous points of reference. I can't see the average young UK teenage girl staying long enough to finish that either.