Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Tom O'Donnell
Illustrator: Tim Miller
Sam Gibbs is surprised when a growling pet hamster shows up in his classroom. The students decide to name him Hamstersaurus Rex, and the name is more fitting than they realize. Hamstersaurus Rex soon disappears, but while Sam is trying to fight off his nemesis, “Beefer” Vanderkoff, the hamster returns and aids Sam. Sam searches the hamster out and creates a home for him in his locker. Later, Sam starts to take his friend for granted, until the hamster is caught by another classmate and locked up. Beefer takes advantage of Hamstersaurus Rex’s captivity to try to destroy him and Sam at last. It all comes to a head the night of the science fair, when Beefer, his snake, Sam, and Hammie Rex finally have it out. Sam saves Hammie Rex and lets him go free, while Beefer is suspended. Everything settles back down at school until one day they hear a familiar growl coming from Hamstersaurus Rex’s cage.
Hamstersaurus Rex is a fun read full of fast-paced adventures. Kiefer “Beefer” Vanderkoff is a mean bully, but in a wacky way, and readers will love rooting against him. There is a company called Smilescorp that plays a small part in the science fair, but every time a snack is mentioned in the book, it is written that it is a product from this company. It seems like the company should have a bigger role for all the product placement throughout the story, but it just ends up being a bit of a distraction. The characters are a little exaggerated; however, they are fun, and the idea that a hamster can be super smart and strong will capture the reader’s imagination. Young readers will enjoy all the wild scenarios Hamstersaurus Rex presents.