Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires! by Author Andrew Root and Artist Jessica Olien

[Review Copy Courtesy of Andrew Root]

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Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires is, in its own way, a masterpiece. It is funny, impossible, sweet, encouraging, and bizarrely realistic and logical. In theory, it shouldn’t work. In theory, a book about a hamster wanting to be a firefighter should be kinda funny and cute at best. Instead, the story and illustrations come together in this beautiful and strangely perfect way that leaves its readers feeling hopeful and energized. You need to read this book. Actually, everybody needs to read this book. It’s truly, truly wonderful.

In Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires we meet and venture along with Hugo, an adorable hamster who, more than anything, wants to be a firefighter.

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From Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires by Author Andrew Root and Artist Jessica Olien. Image Courtesy of Andrew Root.

Hugo is good at a lot of things. He’s polite, helpful, a fast running, and a slow eater — to name a few. But there are also some things that he’s not good at, for instance: being tall, strong, or good at bowling. (Me, too, Hugo. Me, too.) He’s also not a firefighter. This is a BIG problem because this is what he has always wanted to be. He loves everything about it from their suits to the flashing lights to helping others.

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From Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires by Author Andrew Root and Artist Jessica Olien. Image Courtesy of Andrew Root.

But fortunately for Hugo, he has a wonderful friend, Scarlett, a snake. She’s going to be the first reptile astronaut in space one day, and she encourages Hugo to follow his dreams and become a firefighter.

It appears that Hugo’s also good at taking solid advice. He builds up his courage and heads down to the station. He manages to convince the fire chief to let him try. But it doesn’t go so well. He’s just too darn small. After failing again and again, he’s ready to give up. But then then an emergency call comes over the radio, and in the confusion he gets taken along to help fight a forest fire.

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From Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires by Author Andrew Root and Artist Jessica Olien. Image Courtesy of Andrew Root.

Clearly, he can’t lift the hose, or drive the truck, or even wear the suit correctly, but he finds that there is something he can do to make a difference — he can save a baby bird! He does and the fire chief welcomes Hugo onto the team! It’s a joyous celebration!

We then find out that Hugo is also great at making chili, teaching fire safety, navigating short cuts, and climbing tall ladders. The miracle of the internet allows him to even find a firefighter outfit that is perfectly sized! Hugo’s still good at many things, but now, he’s a firefighter, too.

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From Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires by Author Andrew Root and Artist Jessica Olien. Image Courtesy of Andrew Root.

Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires is such a fun book to read with your kids. It has an uplifting message, wonderful characters, and skillfully shows that if you play to your strengths, you can find a way to be who you want to be. It might not be how you initially thought, but if you’re flexible, you can be, to some degree, whatever you want.

Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires is also very, very funny. It gives me and the kids a good laugh each time we read it. The way the writing juxtaposes opposites (a hamster being a firefighter, that Hugo is a fast runner but a slow eater, a snake and a hamster being friends, etc.) is so well done and strikes it right each time for maximum humor. The illustrations have some great details that make you do a double take and perfectly play off the text. The bright colors, bold outlines, large eyes, and friendly faces have some crazy kid magic embedded in them that absorb and enchant even the most active and wiggliest kids.

The most impressive thing about Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires is how well it takes a completely impossible and absurd scenario and turns it into something logical and encouraging. Read this to someone who wants something but thinks it is impossible, and by the end of this story they’ll feel foolish for not at least trying.

Both my three-year-old son and the seven-year-old son adore this book. We read it and read it and read it again. It is the perfect book to read when you’re all in a great mood because it will make you feel even better. Read it when you’re feeling down or after some kind of failure and you’ll feel encouraged. Read it to your children when they’re little to help plant the seeds of hope and persistence and read it to them when they’re older to remind them that virtually nothing is impossible.

But most importantly, read it. It’s completely wonderful.

Recommended Ages 4 to 8. HarperCollins. September 2017. 40 pages. ISBN: 978-0062452948 Fiction.

Where to Get it:

Author and Artist Websites:

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Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the author. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit.  It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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