Reviews /

Olly Brown, God of Hamsters

Authored by Bethany Walker
Illustrated by Jack Noel
Published by Scholastic

Tagged , , , ,

Olly Brown God of Hamsters is an entertaining sci-fi adventure full of humour but with an encouraging message about facing up to your own fears.

Olly Brown is obsessed with hamsters and his dearest wish is to have a hamster of his own but his overprotective dad will not allow it. He will not even allow Olly to bring home the class hamster, Sharon, for the weekend. However, one day a new hamster turns up in his classroom but this is not an ordinary hamster, this is a hamster named Tibbles who appears to worship young Olly. Olly finally has a hamster of his own to care for and takes the small creature home, hiding him from his father. Tibble’s strange behaviour is compounded by the arrival of an increasing number of hamsters who appear at his home all of whom treat Olly as though he is special. Poor Olly must hide the presence of the hamsters from his dad and find a way to return them to their own home, unfortunately that will require the return of their missing spaceship.

This is great fun and pitched just right for its target audience of about 7+ who will no doubt enjoy the many references to hamster poo. The chapters are interspersed with black and white illustrations, correspondence between Tibbles and his master back home named Fluffy the 1000th, the Great and Most Fluffsome, Tender-Hearted Leader of Hamsters, plus snippets from an online alien conspiracy chat room, all of which add to the humour.

As is often the case in fiction for young people Bethany Walker has used humour to subtly convey themes that are important to children. Olly is a shy, quiet child who finds it difficult to make friends and as this adventure develops, he gradually gains in confidence and discovers that he is able to speak up when it is about something that matters to him. Children will find this aspect of the story reassuring and it is a strength of the book that Olly demonstrates how this can occur. The start of the story sees him having to write down three challenges that he wants to complete in the final weeks in Year 6 and the manner in which he achieves this, particularly the final one of ‘making an impact’ will have young readers cheering him on. The other message incorporated is the importance of loyal friendship and not always judging on first appearances which is a useful life lesson.

This book would no doubt be popular in primary school libraries and classrooms but would also be enjoyed by adults who may like to use it as a class read-aloud.