I, Houdini by Lynne Reid Banks

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I, Houdini by Lynne Reid Banks

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A great book for animal lovers that will open your eyes to the inner machinations of your innocent-looking little hamster!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: March 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0007341535

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Houdini is not your usual, commonplace hamster. Oh no, he is a hamster on a mission, a mission to escape! From his very first glorious taste of freedom he spends his life inventing ways to escape and scurrying away (usually straight into a heap of trouble) at every possible opportunity. This is his tale, related entirely from his own, rather conceited, point of view.

I have had quite a few hamsters in my life and they have all had their own little personalities. We did have one once that got stuck inside a video recorder and had to be bribed out with food, but after reading this story though I am greatly relieved that, as yet, I haven't been subjected to a hamster quite like Houdini. I wasn't entirely sure I was going to enjoy the book at the beginning because Houdini, it must be said, is a proud little hamster who thinks very highly of himself. He isn't particularly attached to the humans he lives with and his sole goal in life is to escape. However, as he continues to run away and get into worse and worse trouble his arrogance becomes funny, rather than annoying.

Children will love all the trouble he causes, chewing the felt pads off the piano hammers, chewing through bits of furniture, escaping under the floor, flooding the kitchen...Every time he gets out he ends up in trouble so the whole book is one exciting adventure after another, including some rather nerve-wracking moments when he ventures into the great outdoors!

The writing isn't simplified and is actually quite complex, so it's better for a confident reader, perhaps in the 9 to 12 age group, but I think younger children would also enjoy hearing the story read aloud because of all the funny incidents. Some older issues are touched on, such as an alcoholic father and a family with rather suspicious hygiene issues, but they are only briefly mentioned so a younger child wouldn't be disturbed by them (although the bit where Houdini gets captured by a dog might have them panicking a little!) There was a little section that made me feel a bit uncomfortable, when Houdini meets a female hamster and is sending her hamster messages that he's going to mate with her whether she likes it or not. He does then say This would doubtless seem high-handed to a human being, but a buck has to be firm with his doe. Does don't appreciate half-heartedness, you have to show them who's boss. Things are very different in the animal kingdom, but still...

There's a nice little section at the end of the book after the story has finished with some hamster facts, how to take care of your hamster guides and games. The whole story itself is actually quite educational about hamsters, and I'm sure readers will look at their little pets in an entirely different way after reading of Houdini's exciting escapades!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For more hamster related shenanigans try The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies or Holidays According to Humphrey by Betty G Birney.

Buy I, Houdini by Lynne Reid Banks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I, Houdini by Lynne Reid Banks at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy I, Houdini by Lynne Reid Banks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I, Houdini by Lynne Reid Banks at Amazon.com.


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