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Hamster and Cheese

Book 1

Hamster and Cheese
Colleen AF Venable By (author)
Stephanie Yue Illustrated by
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Lerner Publishing Group

Limited ***

7.0 X 7.3 in
48 pg

JUVENILE FICTION / Comics & Graphic Novels / General
JUVENILE FICTION / Mysteries & Detective Stories
JUVENILE FICTION / Mysteries & Detective Stories


ALSC Graphic Novels Reading List — 2018 — Winner
Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year — 2010 — Winner
Kirkus Best Children's Books — 2010 — Winner
New York Public Library Best Books for Kids — 2010 — Winner


There's a sandwich thief in Mr. Venezi's pet shop.

Everyone is a suspect, from the chinchillas to the goldfish. Never fear! The world's fluffiest detective on the case: Sasspants, PI(G).

By day, Sasspants is your average book-loving, gizmo-inventing guinea pig. By night she solves pet shop mysteries with the help of her sidekick, Hamisher the hamster. Our furry little heroes will stop at nothing to find the sandwich thief! This is the first book in the Guinea PIG, Pet Shop Private Eye series.

"Absolutely adorable drawings, blended with witty dialogue in a way that makes this comic a perfect read for all ages . . . and Owly would like to add that 'little Hamisher and his drawings are equal to awesome.'"—Andy Runton, author of Owly

"Move over Miss Marple, never mind the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, here's the real mistress of the whodunit. She's sharp. And she's furry. This one's a keeper."—Mark Siegel, illustrator of To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel


"Colleen A.F. Venable’s electrically charged comic-book story features Mr. Venezi, a pet-store owner who can’t tell a llama from a finch. But he does know his sandwich goes missing every day, and he will banish the koalas if it happens again. The koalas are actually hamsters, and they recruit a guinea pig to investigate (the 'G' has fallen off her nameplate, ergo 'PI'—private investigator). Sasspants the PI solves the mystery but not without much zany, motor-mouthed 'assistance' from the resident camels, walruses and sloths—or whatever. 'While classmates create imaginary friends, I created an imaginary hamster,' says Venable. 'If anything went wrong, it wasn’t my fault—it was his. The book-version hamster is me in third grade; obsessed with mysteries, superoutgoing and over-the-top hyperactive. Mom believed my hyperness was a gift not a problem, especially if you gave me pen and paper.'"
--Kirkus ReviewsJournal

"Children will love Sasspants, a guinea pig who reads in her pet-shop cage using a thimble recycled as a reading lamp. She is the only animal properly identified because she's made her own sign using tiles. When the 'G' at the end of 'PIG' falls off, Hamisher the hamster mistakes Sasspants for a private investigator ('PI'), and enlists her help to find who's stealing Mr. Venezi's sandwiches. So begins this humorous mystery. Children who are just beginning to read graphic novels independently will enjoy solving the case with Sasspants. The full-color cartoons enhance the comic appeal. Two funny informational pages about the pet store denizens follow the story."
--School Library JournalJournal

"This promising new series opens in a pet store where a smart guinea pig named Sasspants spends her time reading the many books she keeps around her. Her smarts—in addition to the fact her cage accidentally says GUINEA PI instead of PIG—gets her tapped as a crime solver. When sandwiches go missing, a hamster becomes convinced the local pet private investigator will be the one to solve the case. While initially against getting involved, Sasspants nevertheless starts an investigation. Children can look and guess for themselves about the clues and red herrings the book presents. The humor in the characters' personalities and dialogue makes this a lively and entertaining book."
--Publishers Weekly

"Who is stealing Mr. Venezi’s sandwiches? The befuddled pet-shop owner misidentifies the store’s animals, leading the hamsters to think they’re koalas. In this first book in the Guinea PIG, Pet Shop Private Eye graphic-novel series, Hamisher the koala-hamster thinks Sasspants the guinea pig is a private investigator because the second G on her cage’s sign has fallen off, so he asks her to investigate. They travel through the pet shop, questioning the various animal suspects (rabbits, a snake, a parrot), and Sasspants decides to set a trap for the thief by disguising the shop’s turtle as a sandwich. Grumpy Sasspants, hyper Hamisher, creepy Gerry the snake, the goldfish (whom Mr. Venezi calls kangaroos), and the other animals all have distinctive personalities. Young readers will appreciate the zaniness of the pet shop and the fun mystery, and Yue’s colorful art uses a straightforward panel design that’s easy to follow. The book includes fun facts about snakes and other animals Mr. Venezi thinks he has."

"There is skullduggery afoot at Mr. Venezi's Pets & Stuff: Someone keeps stealing his sandwich, which he puts outside the koala cage every day. No, he doesn't sell koalas; they're really hamsters, but Mr. Venezi is both shortsighted and incompetent (though very kind). The only cage that's correctly labeled is the one holding the guinea pig—but someone has stolen the G, so little Hamisher the koala, er, hamster has decided that guinea pig Sasspants must be a P.I. and therefore can crack the case. Venable's series opener just gets loonier. The irascible Sasspants would rather be reading, but, seeing that Hamisher won't leave her alone, she swings into action. The actual mystery plays second fiddle to the over-the-top characterizations and snappy dialogue: The goldfish are thoroughly brainless, Gerry the corn snake is inscrutable, the chinchillas are prima donnas (one of them has a pet white mouse). Yue's graphic panels, colored by Hi-Fi Design, make the most of the comic potential and extend it with plenty of visual slapstick. Middle graders will close this and ask right away for Detective Pants's next caper."
--Kirkus ReviewsJournal

Author Bio

Colleen AF Venable lives in New York and is the author of several acclaimed graphic novels, including National Book Award Longlist selection Kiss Number 8.
Stephanie Yue grew up in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, and went to New York to study illustration. Currently, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and spends her days drawing, practicing kung fu, and making stuff.