Colleen A.F. Venable’s electrically charged comic-book story features Mr. Venezi, a pet-store owner who can’t tell a llama from a finch. But he does know his sandwich goes missing every day, and he will banish the koalas if it happens again. The koalas are actually hamsters, and they recruit a guinea pig to investigate (the “G” has fallen off her nameplate, ergo “PI”—private investigator). Sasspants the PI solves the mystery but not without much zany, motor-mouthed “assistance” from the resident camels, walruses and sloths—or whatever. “While classmates created Imaginary friends, I created an imaginary hamster,” says Venable. “If anything went wrong, it wasn’t my fault—it was his. The book-version hamster is me in third grade: obsessed with mysteries, superoutgoing and over-the-top hyperactive. Mom believed my hyperness was a gift not a problem, especially if you gave me pen and paper.” The sequel, And Then There Were Gnomes, is just as funny.


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Pub info:

Hamster and Cheese

Colleen A.F. Venable

Illustrated by Stephanie Yue

Graphic Universe / April / 9780761354796; 9780761345985 / $6.95 paperback; $27.93 (Lib. Ed.) / ages 7-11