This third early reader in the Hot Rod Hamster series (Hot Rod Hamster and the Wacky Whatever Race, 2014) finds the likable rodent and his crew of pals planning costumes for a big Halloween bash.
Hot Rod Hamster convinces Dog to attend the upcoming Halloween party, but first they must acquire the perfect get-ups in order to win either the “best” or “spookiest costume.” The duo, along with a few enthusiastic mice, searches for the perfect thing to wear. “Ghost fun. Clown fun. Star fun. Crown fun. / Which would you choose?” This familiar phrasing, though utilized in previous Hot Rod titles, is less than effective here in creating a rhythm, since dialogue bubbles are interspersed throughout the text irregularly. When the group settles on dressing up as a rock band, they must come together to write a song to sing, build a stage, and integrate a ghostly choir to add pizzazz to their musical debut. Guess who wins? Unfortunately Paprocki’s illustrations have a mass-produced cartoon quality that do not quite match Derek Anderson’s more painterly style, seen in the picture books in the series.
No doubt fans of the previous titles will appreciate the story of friends cooperating on such an exciting venture, but overall this offering falls a bit flat. (Early reader. 5-8)