One book Max absolutely loves is Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord. I was in my nesting phase of pregnancy toward the end of when I was working at Ball State University, and one of the groups on campus held a Scholastic book fair as a fundraiser. This is also where I bought Shark vs. Train, which I’ll review next.
In the opening pages of the book you see the sign for a hot rod race, to be held today. The hamster hero studies the board, then makes his way to the junkyard, where Junkyard Dog and his rat helpers piece together a winning car. Thich is an excellent opportunity to talk about where trash goes versus recycling, as well as reusing old materials.
While in the junkyard, there are many opportunities for interaction between the book and the reader. Junkyard Dog shows the hamster several options for each piece needed for the car (wheels, engine, paint flames) and asks the reader, “Which would you choose?”
All of those options allow for many objects for your child to point out and for you to talk about. Size is one element of the choices made, as well as new versus old and shiny clean versus dirty.
It also opens the door for you and your (older) child to create projects like the Pinewood Derby car one Girl Scout fashioned after Hot Rod Hamster’s ride. That would be sure to make Hot Rod Hamster jump for joy!
After the car is assembled at the junkyard, all the characters head to the race to watch Hot Rod Hamster compete against much larger and more experienced vehicles. It reminded me of The Little Rascals, one of my all-time favorite movies! You feel the excitement of the racers and the crowd, and your child will love seeing the winner cross the finish line!
For all these reasons, as well as the brilliant illustration by Derek Anderson, Hot Rod Hamster deserves 5 snacks: