Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord, Illustrated by Derek Anderson

Here’s a picture book for both car-lovers and animal-lovers. Hot Rod Hamster, by Cynthia Lord, starts out with a billboard proclaiming today’s Hot Rod Race. Hamster reads it, and then sets off to get his hot rod built, with the help of the junk yard dog and his assistants—including the reader! Hamster has to choose each part of his vehicle, but the reader is asked to make choices, too. The rich, busy illustrations by Derek Anderson along with descriptive rhymes make choosing fun, since you can search each spread to find, for example,
Coil parts, flat parts, gleaming this and that parts,
Round parts, straight parts, funny, out of date parts.

Once the car is ready and Hamster has his helmet in place, you get to watch the “’Oops!’ race, ‘oh!’ race” to see who wins!

In the midst of the excitement of participating in the book, young readers and listeners will also be building early literacy skills left and right.
• Print awareness and letter knowledge: Point to the dialogue bubbles that help carry on the conversation with bold print emphasizing the sounds of cars.
• Phonological awareness: Play with the sounds, from vrooms to beeps, along with the racing rhymes.
• Narrative skills and vocabulary: Use the words in the rhymes and come up with your own, to tell why you chose what you did. Describe the colors, shapes, sounds, and other characteristics of your favorites.

Future race car drivers, mechanics, and truck afficionados who get into Hot Rod Hamster will also love the noises, illustrations, and often rhymes in the many car and truck books in the picture book and nonfiction areas of your local Virginia Beach Public Library. Check out The Wheels on the Race Car by Alex Zane for more animals racing fast. Froggy book author Jonathan London offers a simple introduction to the trucks two-year-olds love in A Truck Goes Rattley-Bumpa, while Wake Up Engines by Denise Dowling Mortensen includes a greater variety of vehicles, noises, and vocabulary from rotors to diesel motors.

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