Friday, 5 December 2014

3d-review –‘My hamster is an astronaut‘ – Dave Lowe

There is nothing Ben wants more than a pet – he longs for an exciting, possibly rare or even fierce animal he can tame and call his friend. And then his mum brings one home - and it is the start of a beautiful friendship.

Dave Lowe's brilliant 'Stinky and Jinks' series is not just any other story about pets, Ben's big wish does come true and he meets his new friend - a very small and very fluffy hamster. At first Ben is disappointed. But then he discovers that Stinky is no ordinary hamster . . .

Animal stories abound for younger readers, but Dave Lowe’s ‘Stinky and Jinks’ series give a great twist to the whole idea. Stinky has a very grumpy personality and spends most of his time being very rude, and the rest of the time he is being sarcastic of just plain cross. Especially when he has to suffer the sort of insults pets have to put up with, like when Ben’s sister dresses him up in dolls’ clothes.

But Stinky is also very clever and a very determined hamster. Stinky is always full of brilliant ideas as well a being a genius at maths homework, which is where things start to go well . . . and the they start to go wrong.

Ben and Stinky are an amazingly brilliant team, very funny, getting involved in all sorts of scrapes and nothing ever goes according to plan so the plots twist and there is plenty of excitement as well as humour. 

They are also illustrated by Mark Chambers and you can read an interview of him by Stinky at Stink’s blog

Children’s ability to read is often outpaced by what they demand and can understand in terms of plot and complexity so it’s always a challenge to find books for early readers that are simple enough so that they can understand them, but with stories that they really want to read.

The Stinky and Jinks books achieve this just brilliantly – simple, yet clever and funny - an unbeatable combination in stories that are told in such a short number of words. We have fans in the bookshop aged from five to eleven.

I was lucky enough to meet Dave Lowe when he was visiting from Australia earlier this year, It was interesting to learn just how much work goes into these stories, but not surprising. The books are deceptively easy to read, but they are also very clever and engaging.

Dave told me that the editing process takes much, much longer than the first draft. Dave spends several months editing, going over every word and phrase to make it clearer, more imaginative, or more exciting or just more laugh-out-loud funny. 

He finally became a published author after a long apprenticeship of a love of writing that started when he was very young, followed up by a lot of rejection – not a unique story, but often one that produces very good writers.

There are too few books that are fun, imaginative, well plotted and accessible for early readers, or indeed for older readers who find reading challenging. If you aren't a fan of 'Stinky and Jinks' yet - there are now six books in the series – with the last one ‘My Hamster is a Detective’ published in October.

Stinky and Jinks may sadly be coming to an end, but Dave is busy working on a new series.

My Hamster in an Astronaut - Dave Lowe

Book Review by Spike Poyton

My Hamster in an Astronaut is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, good! It is very, very funny. Stinky the hamster is grumpy; he is scared of heights and his owner, nine year old, Benjamin Jinks, is planning on making him the astronaut of a home-made rocket that he is going to launch for a science project!

Stinky wearing a helmet made out of a tennis ball is set to go to space to beat school bully’s flying saucer display. Lots of funny adventures happen to Stinky and Benjamin and it will make you laugh!

If you like, 'My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish', 'Guinea Pigs Online' or Dick King Smith book’s, you will LOVE My Hamster is an Astronaut!

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