Who stole the hamster from Room 11? A once-happy class is set on edge in this humorous, highly relatable mystery perfect for middle-grade readers.
The day the hamster disappears from Smashie McPerter’s class begins like any other. Well, except for the fact that the teacher is out sick and Smashie’s class is stuck with Mr. Carper, the worst substitute in the world. And except for the mysterious business with the glue. And except for the fact that Smashie is wrestling with a terrible problem, which only partly stems from her extreme aversion to hamster feet. As the peaceable and productive days of Room 11 turn into paranoia-fueled chaos, as natural suspects produce natural alibis and motives remain unmotivated, Smashie and her best friend, Dontel, are forced to the limits of their parlor-room detecting to set things right.
Smashie and friends are a group of quirky friends who are trying to solve the mystery of the classroom hamster going missing. In order to find out what happened, they use their sleuthing skills to put together the clues and save the hamster. The investigation becomes quite complex, anyone could be a suspect but there are a few people that specifically had it out for Patches (the hamster), but who would have taken him?
This book has been rated for children 7-10 but I find it difficult to believe that a 7 year old would be able to read some of the words found in this book on their own. I would be worried the children would get discouraged with pronunciations and comprehension. Some of the words used are: thwarted, exonerate and caveat and they use expressions like “let someone else take the heat for you” which I think is a little difficult for most that age.
However, this book would make a perfect read aloud for a classroom or parents with lots of room for higher thinking questions. The way the more difficult words are presented would allow them to infer a meaning. The plot line and humour is perfect for grades 2-3. Overall, I enjoyed Smashie, the characters and story were funnier than I had expected.