Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dietlof Reiche

I, Freddy
by Dietlof Reiche
Recommended Age: 8+

This is the first book in a series that has been translated from the original German by John Brownjohn, illustrated with whimsical line-drawings by Joe Cepeda, and published under the title The Golden Hamster Saga. As “Book One,” this story mainly serves to introduce the hero of the series: (surprise!) a golden hamster named Freddy.

Freddy is a typical, golden hamster in many ways. He was born in a cage. He requires food like grain, shredded lettuce, and a bit of protein (best served in the form of a mealworm). He is impeccably neat and tidy, storing his food in a burrow, using a separate hole as his “john,” and exercising on a running disk to stay fit and trim. He is also a bit conceited and takes himself awfully seriously. But then, he’s a very gifted hamster, too. He learns to read and write from the small girl, Sophie, who owns him. Then he moves in with a man named Mr. John, who has lots of books for a literate hamster to read, and who eventually gets a computer so that the hamster can write too!

But there are many obstacles between the would-be hamster author and his creative freedom. For one, there is his attachment to Sophie, and her attachment to Freddy, in spite of Sophie’s mom’s allergy to hamsters. For another, there is the irritation of living in the same apartment with two smelly, filthy guinea pigs who keep up a constant campaign of tasteless jokes and songs. Perhaps most significant is the presence of Sir William, a civilized tomcat who probably won’t eat Freddy as long as he obeys the civilized rules of the apartment... and one of those rules is that the animals must never get in touch with humans!

Kids of all ages will enjoy this goofy tale, told by an often pompous but also adventurous hero in a small, cute, furry package. [EDIT: I think Freddy on the Loose is an alternate title for this book.]

Freddy in Peril
by Dietlof Reiche
Recommended Age: 8+

Book Two of The Golden Hamster Saga finds Freddy, the reading, writing, golden hamster, still living with Mr. John, his irreverent guinea pigs Enrico and Caruso, and his civilized tomcat Sir William. Until now, the presence of the other animals has been a cross for Freddy to bear – because of their smell alone, to say nothing of their lack of support for Freddy’s career as an author. But in this story, Freddy finds out why he’s lucky to have such friends.

It starts while Mr. John is out of town. A mad scientist has discovered that Freddy is intelligent, and wants to dissect the hamster’s living brain. Dr. Fleischkopf will stop at nothing, not even burglary or... gulp... threatening the safety of Sophie, the sweet little girl who used to own Freddy and who still brings him mealworms from time to time. In desperation, Freddy flees the apartment, together with the other pets. Joined by a tribe of sewer rats, the animals risk their fur to protect Freddy from the evil scientist. Finally it becomes a matter of whether a cat and two guinea-pigs – neither of whom can write – can communicate what is going on to Mr. John before it is too late!

Be sure to join Freddy and his friends for this second hilarious, fur-raising adventure. Decorated by Joe Cepeda’s charming line-drawings, translated from the German by John Brownjohn, and laid out in a large-print, easy-read format with a big, bold, graphic way of emphasizing certain things, it would be a fun book to read with children. And with its narrator who takes himself a tad too seriously for his own good, it’s even worth a giggle or two without children!

Freddy to the Rescue
by Dietlof Reiche

In Book Three of The Golden Hamster Saga, Freddy the reading, writing, golden hamster goes up against bulldozers, security guards, and City Hall in an environment-friendly adventure. An automobile plant is to be built over a grain field that is home to a colony of field hamsters – creatures bigger and even more cantankerous than Freddy himself, but still, they’re a protected species. A phony scientific report “proves” that no hamsters live in the field...but that doesn’t change the fact that, unless somebody does something, dozens of Freddy’s cousins are going to die.

Freddy hears their call for help and comes running, along with all his faithful friends – two hammy guinea pigs named Enrico and Caruso – a cool, carsick cat named Sir William – their own man, Mr. John, and his journalist girlfriend Linda – and others as well. The secrecy surrounding Freddy’s ability to read and write must be sacrificed to the greater good. And as time runs out for the field hamsters, Freddy risks their “biting” disapproval to persuade them that their lives are in danger, their “priest” is a fraud, and their only hope is to do the unthinkable: move to a different field.

It’s a big responsibility for a hamster, even one who can use a Mac.

I’ve enjoyed all of The Golden Hamster Saga so far. I have yet to run into the fourth volume in the series, titled The Haunting of Freddy, but when I see it, you’ll know about it. [EDIT: There is now also a fifth book, titled Freddy's Final Quest.]

1 comment:

Alisa said...

I'll have to try and find them for my boys. We have hamsters and they would love those books. Great blog of info about them.
I was so disappointed when I got an email forwarded from a friend, you should check it out.