Hamster—a sarcastic, egocentric, yet still enjoyable protagonist—travels with his band of patient, tolerant timberland friends to the Arctic Circle.
In a series of short, amusing vignettes, Hamster, Mole, Hedgehog, Snail, and Rabbit leave their clearing to visit Bear’s cousin, Polar Bear. Dialogue and offbeat humor move the substantial import forward as small episodes play out. Hamster remains disgruntled and disillusioned; Mole and Hedgehog shy from their innocent, mutual crush; and the group assembles for their unlikely holiday destination: the North Pole. The most successful exchange between characters, titled “Do-it-yourself,” shows Hamster approaching Snail, hoisting supplies and a toolbox. “Snail, I’ve got a job to do. Would you give me a hand?” Snail responds, “Sure, Hamster, what are you making?” Dropping the items onto the ground and flattening a small flower patch, Hamster pivots, giving Snail his back; as he walks away he nonchalantly replies, “A spaceship. Have fun, Snail.” Crushed, like the flower patch, Snail is left alone, giving a whole new meaning to DIY. Martin’s simple, subtle depictions—reminiscent of Bob Shea's and Mo Willems’ character drawings, they are rarely to scale and appear against vast, white or solid-colored backgrounds—adorn Desbordes’ unconventional, comical dialogue.
A blunt, at times knee-slapping story suitable for perceptive young readers, those unsure of social cues, and global readers alike. (Graphic novel. 7 & up)