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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lulu and the Hamster in the Night, written by Hilary McKay. Albert Whitman & Company, Thomas Allen & Son. 2015. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"She used to reach through the bars with a pencil and poke the hamster off the wheel. One day, when Emma Pond's hamster had the chance, it bit Emma Pond. This happened on a day when Emma had not been able to find a pencil and had used her finger to poke him instead. It was not a little bite; it was a big one. As big as a hamster could manage."

Luckily for the hamster, Emma Post knows just the person who will be happy to take that ungrateful hamster off her hands. As does everyone else who knows Lulu and her love of animals. Lulu has taken a number of them under her wing in previous books: a duck, a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and a hedgehog. Each time she has proven her mettle by doing her very best to make a home for those pets.

The hamster that she takes home, on the day Emma Pond decides to get rid of it, has not been treated well, or given proper care:

"Ratty did not become tame very quickly. Perhaps he had been poked too many times by Emma Pond's pencil for that. For days he tried to bite Lulu whenever she reached a hand toward him. He scuttled out of sight at every unexpected noise."

Poor hamster! His behavior is not the only problem. Lulu and Mellie's nan doesn't like pets; she really doesn't like hamsters at all. The girls decide they will not tell her about Ratty. As Ratty becomes more accustomed to the changes in the way he is being treated, it's time to celebrate Nan's birthday with a weekend visit from Lulu and Mellie. How can they leave Ratty at home when he is just getting used to them? What will Nan say to having him accompany them? The girls know that Nan will not want anything to do with their new pet.

With ingenuity and a great deal of planning, Lulu prepares to take Ratty along, unbeknownst to anyone but Mellie. You know that things are not going to just fall into place, don't you? Will they be able to keep their secret? I wonder.

If you have a Lulu fan in your family or classroom, you know they are going to love having a new adventure to share. If not, you might want to think about checking out this terrific series for kids wanting to make the leap to chapter books. Go for it!

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