Hamsters demonstrate opposites in this new board book.
The back cover proclaims, “Hamsters love their opposites!” but there is not much to love about this slight overview of contrasting pairs strung together with a visual narrative arc set at what appears to be a summer camp. The pages are sturdy and the hamsters are cute, but that's not enough to make anyone fall in love. Health-conscious readers may take exception to one of Reich's choices. She illustrates “YES” with a piece of cake and “NO” with a steaming bowl of greens—hardly a positive message to give children about vegetables. The most original pairing is “SHHH hamster / SHOUT hamster,” in which one reading hamster decides to make a ruckus and disturb two other peaceful hamsters. After a speedy romp through the day culminating with “DAY hamster” (three hamsters float in a canoe) and “Night hamster” (three hamsters toast marshmallows), the story ends abruptly with “Out like a light HAMSTERS.” The last four pages feel like filler: all eight hamsters are seen smiling in a line, followed by the copyright information on the last interior page and then, on the inside back cover, repeated images of six objects seen earlier in the book.
For a genuinely engaging hamster adventure (for slightly older children), pick up Peggy Rathman's 10 Minutes Till Bedtime (1998)—an exact opposite of this weak offering. (Board book. 2-4)