“He’s soo cute!” squealed the pigtailed girl. …Aren’t you my little Sweetie Pie?”
When a lone hamster is purchased by a pigtailed girl, his life as ‘Sweetie Pie’ becomes anything but sweet as he is handed off to new owners, one after the other. Sweetie Pie goes from being overfeed, treated as a doll, endangered by other family pets and a mother who detests rodents to finding his own freedom and home, with an unusual friend. As with many stories, they are rooted or inspired by real life experiences. This story was inspired by his daughter’s own hamsters, who despite the best intentions, met with unfortunate ends. This story promises readers a more happy and satisfying ending.
Unlike many of Chris Van Allsburg’s other books, this story is more settled in realistic fiction rather than the surreal. The images allow us to view life from the perspective of a hamster, bringing the perils being a small creature to life. Unlike many of his other books, this book is more balanced in his use of images and text. Each illustration is bordered, allowing young readers to follow along with the visual story.
This story is ideal for children wanting a pet of their own. It is an excellent fit for the Alberta Grade 1 social studies curriculum about Belonging and the Grade 1 Science unit about the Needs of Plants and Animals. It would be useful for teaching the Character Education value of Responsibility within Health. This book is best suited to read-aloud with primary students.