cover image Hanukkah Hamster

Hanukkah Hamster

Michelle Markel, illus. by André Ceolin. Sleeping Bear, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58536-399-5

Who left the hamster in Edgar’s cab? No one has reported a missing pet to his cab company, so Edgar, a taxi driver from Israel, names the hamster Chickpea (after a beloved legume from his native land) and improvises a cozy temporary habitat for the critter in his apartment. But as the days pass—marked by the kindling of a new Hanukkah candle for each night—Edgar, who has been living a solitary and spare life, finds himself bonding with irrepressible Chickpea (“Was that a little smile? Edgar took pictures on his phone and shared them with his family in Israel”) and wondering how he’ll feel if the rightful owner shows up. Plainspoken storytelling by Markel (Balderdash!) offers emotional depth, as do pictures by Ceolin (Yom Kippur’s Shortstop), which combine crisp shapes and velvety textures. While lightly anthropomorphized Chickpea is adorable, it’s Edgar who will quickly win readers’ sympathies, and the “everybody wins” ending feels just right. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Anna Olswanger, Olswanger Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Mela Bolinao, MB Artists. [em](Sept.) [/em]