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The Hamster of the Baskervilles: A Chet Gecko Mystery Hardcover – April 1, 2002

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When classrooms start turning up trashed and rumors of a mysterious giant "were-hamster" are whispered in the halls of Emerson Hicky Elementary, Chet Gecko, fourth-grade detective, swings into action. His teacher, Mr. Ratnose, has promised him two get-out-of-detention-free cards and a box of jelly doughnuts if he solves the mystery, and as the case evolves and the moon waxes full, Chet and his mockingbird partner, Natalie Attired, are drawn in deeper and deeper. Soon they are going undercover as potential members of the Dirty Rotten Stinkers gang, hiding out in Dumpsters, and working on the sly for fat-cat Principal Zero.

Savvy readers well-versed in Bruce Hale's hilarious wordplay and detective novel spoofs will not be surprised to see that the denouement of this uproarious mystery involves a few shady characters named Erik Nidd (a tarantula bully), Luke Busy (a badger janitor), and Lauren Order (a meek little hamster), as well as a giant makeshift Habitrail. Other titles in the series include Farewell, My Lunchbag and The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse. (Ages 8 to 12) --Emilie Coulter

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5-Chet returns for his fifth case, when his classroom is wrecked and he is offered two get-out-of-detention-free cards and a box of jelly doughnuts to find the culprit. The zany text reads like a mixture of stand-up comedy, Raymond Chandler mysteries, old films, and a fourth grader on an overdose of sugar. In order to solve the case Chet and his bird partner, Natalie Attired, infiltrate the Dirty Rotten Stinkers gang to find out more about suspects Erik Nidd, a tank-sized tarantula, and Bosco Rebbizi, a "surly ferret with a chip on his shoulder the size of a redwood tree." A werewolf is sighted and the playground has large tunnels in it. Chet interviews the librarian, an opossum who is an expert on the supernatural and talks like a Beat hipster from the 1950s. Plot development is not built steadily with the finding of clues, and the ending is sudden and contrived. However, the irresistible wordplay and punny humor may elicit giggles from many readers. Illustrations are adequate, but they don't have the originality and appeal of the text.
Debbie Stewart, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 520L (What's this?)
  • Series: Chet Gecko (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; 1st edition (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152025030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152025038
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,927,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 25 seriously funny books for children, including the popular Chet Gecko Mysteries series and the comics-novel hybrid, Underwhere, as well as picture books like "Snoring Beauty" and "Moki and the Magic Surfboard."

An actor and Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools across North America - from the Maui Writers Conference to the Surrey International Writers Conference in British Columbia. His acting resume includes regional commercials, theater, and an independent film, The Ride. Bruce's book, "The Malted Falcon," was an Edgar Award Finalist. "Murder, My Tweet" won the Little D Award for Humor Writing.

When he was a kid, Bruce knew exactly what he wanted to be: Daniel Boone. However, somewhere along the way, the right books and the right teachers encouraged him to try following his love of story in a different direction. He is eternally grateful to those who helped him along the path.

A little-known fact: Bruce loves jazz, and sings with an latin jazz group called Mezcal Martini in Santa Barbara

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
I think of this as sort of an advanced chapter book. It isn't for a very early reader, mainly because of the more advanced vocabulary, the length, and the wordplay. But, once your young reader gets her sea legs and wants a little more advanced fare, this series would be very appealing.

The books are reasonably well-plotted, with each one built around some sort of school-based mystery that p.i. Gecko has to solve. The stories follow mystery conventions , with clues, suspects, and red herrings, and a big reveal at the end, and so are actually pretty good introductions to the mystery style.

Characters have a lot more personality, and are more individually styled, than you might expect from such an early reader, and Chet Gecko actually has a distinctive and appealing p.i. patter.

As you can tell from the character names, there are lots of puns and lots of fun with names of characters and places and things going on in the school. If anything there can be too much wordplay and a reader might occasionally become overwhelmed by the cleverness.

So, this isn't necessarily going to be every young reader's favorite, mostly because of the mystery angle and the puns, but it is most definitely worth a try for an adventurous, slightly advanced reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Starks on June 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
We have laughed our way through the Chet Gecko books. What a fun introduction to reading for my son. Bring on the cheesy jokes, Bruce ...we can't wait for the next Chet Gecko book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
It is not at all violent .it is humorous. It has no violent actions what so ever and has humorous characters and lines. I think you should buy the whole Chet Gecko series.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If this doesn't tempt my younger son into finding out what the original Hound of the Baskervilles is all about, I'll be very suprised. What a great way to whet kids' curiosity about literature in general!
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