A Place to Call Home

The cuddly family of hamsters smiling out at you from the cover of this book have suddenly found that they have grown too big for their safe, cosy hole. Oh, dear! This means they’ll have to go out into the big, bad world and find a new place to live! Their search for a new home quickly turns into a rescue mission when the unthinkable happens and one of their number gets separated from the platoon. Luckily, they know the value of sticking together and have a no-hamster-left-behind policy.

Kids will fall instantly in love with the plucky wee hamsters and laugh out loud at their somewhat melodramatic interpretation of events. The text is limited almost entirely to their dialogue, leading the reader to engage more with the illustrations in order to grasp the whole story and appreciate the humour that lies in the interplay between what we’re shown and how it’s seen by the hamsters. They are convinced they have made an epic journey across a perilous landscape, but the pictures show us they have really just clambered over a pile of rubbish at the bottom of a garden.

The hamster family is brought to life by Viviane Schwarz’s lively, cartoon-like illustrations. The images tell most of the story here, a tough challenge handled skilfully by Schwarz. Her use of comic book-style panels to show the hamsters’ journey in space and time is magic, and combined with double-page spreads providing a setting and close-ups on the hamsters’ expressive little faces, it makes for an intriguing and dynamic format and a really fun read!