Happy Birthday Hamster – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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9551386Title: Happy Birthday Hamster

Story by Cynthia Lord

Art by Derek Anderson

Published by Scholastic Press, 2011

Ages: 3-7

Themes: hamsters, birthdays, friendship

Opening Lines: 

Best day, bake day, candles on a cake day!                                                                       Clap day, cheer day, party time is here day!


Before the title page, the reader is invited into a secret on the interior sleeve of the cover. A bold illustration of Dog saying, “You are invited to HAMSTER’s birthday party! But Shhhhhhh, it’s a surprise.” In rollicking rhyme we follow Hamster through his birthday and his growing disappointment that his best friend Dog appears to have forgotten. The best buds go down town as Dog has a few errands to run. But instead of cake at the bakery, Dog buys dog biscuits and at the toy store he selects a new ball for himself. They both spiff up at the barbers, but Hamster has no idea that Dog has been a decoy. Of course the final scenes are full of friendship and celebration and are a feast to the reader-in-the-know.

Why I like this book:

Small kids will adore the sense of power and anticipation they have in knowing with each page turn and downturn of Hamster’s smile, that all his friends are planning a huge surprise party. Derek Anderson fills each page with colorful critters and hints of what they are all up to. The text offers a great balance between rhyming pairs full of repetition and conversations between Dog and Hamster with speech bubbles, plus a refrain for the reader to answer. It is a zany celebration of birthdays and friendship for younger children, who will warm to this adorable pair of friends. It is a fun story full of energy, color and rhythm, where critters and text skip across the pages. It is a truly feel-good picture book. It is great for any birthday-themed story time.


  • On many of the double spreads Cynthia Lord asks the reader the question, “What would you choose?” Time can be given to allow the readers to respond to this refrain.
  • Children can pick their favorite pet/animal and plan a surprise party for them

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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21 Responses to Happy Birthday Hamster – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Wendy Greenley says:

    Energy, color and rhythm sound like a great picture book combination! Hope you enjoyed your own great celebration. 🙂

  2. I think this is the perfect choice for your birthday celebration this week! You’re still a kid at heart with anticipation. Love the cover of this book and I like the rhythm and pacing you indicate in the book leading to a big surprise. Kids will be very entertained.

  3. I think you’re right about the appeal. I’ll have to try it out on some little readers. They’ll be squealing with delight.

  4. My mom shares the same ‘candle on a cake day’ as you do, and my son would have loved a book with a dog AND a hamster – back in the day.

  5. You had me at hamster!! I love the little critters and can’t wait to find this book. Thanks, Joanna – hope YOUR birthday was special.

  6. Joanna Marple says:

    There’s a third hamster book that has just been published, I believe. HOT ROD HAMSTER, MONSTER TRUCK MANIA.

  7. This book looks so delightful and cute, Joanna! I’m glad to have another birthday title to add to our list – we don’t have that many! And it’s a perfect choice for you this week 🙂

  8. Rosi says:

    This one looks really cute. Thanks for the review.

  9. Cute book, and great choice being your Birthday. I love how you show your kid-at-heart side. Sweet! Thanks Joanna.

  10. Joanna Marple says:


  11. The perfect PPBF pick for your birthday week! I’m partial to hamsters, having helped run psyc expts on them (don’t worry, they were unharmed), and having owned some (Peanut Butter and Vanilla Twinkie were their names). 😉

  12. What a sweet story. I bet this would be a fun read aloud. Thanks Joanna!

  13. Rhythm says:

    This looks excellent!! Perfect choice for the week of your big day. I’ll have to sniff this one out for sure. I love a party! Thanks for sharing!

  14. We love this book at our house! 😀

  15. Emily Lim says:

    A Happy Birthday book read by the Happy Birthday girl, as I read from the thread of comments! Hope you had a great celebration:)

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