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The Great Hamster Massacre

Illustrated by Hannah Shaw

About The Book

Anna and her brother, Tom, have always wanted a pet. And after their latest pestering campaign, their mother finally gives in and lets them choose a pair of hamsters from the local pet shop. But their happiness soon turns to horror when the hamsters are found mysteriously dead in their cage. Anna and Tom launch a full-scale investigation to determine who—or what—is behind the hamster homicides. Can they solve the case of the Great Hamster Massacre?

Katie Davies’ irresistibly funny mystery and Hanna Shaw’s spot-on illustrations combine for a quirky, delightful read that is part detective tale, part diary, and altogether hilarious.


What a Massacre Is

This is a story about me, and Tom, and our Investigation into the Hamster Massacre. I’m supposed to be writing my What-I-Did-On-My-Summer-Vacation story for school, but I’m going to write this story first because you should always write a Real Investigation up straight away. That’s what my friend Suzanne says. And Suzanne knows everything about Real Investigations. Mom said she didn’t think my teacher would like the story of my real summer vacation, and how the Hamster Massacre happened. She said, “Anna (that’s my name), some nice things must have happened this summer and if you can’t remember any, you can make some nice things up, and put them in your vacation report instead.”

Mom doesn’t think it matters if my Vacation Report isn’t exactly true, but Graham Roberts got in trouble last year when he put that he spent the whole vacation in the dog bed. His dog had died, so maybe he did stay in the dog bed all vacation, but Mrs. Peters said he must have come out to eat and go to the bathroom and things like that, and Joe-down-the-street told Tom he saw Graham at Scouts. And you can’t be in a dog bed there.

Tom is my little brother. I’ve got another brother too, and a sister, but they’re older than me and Tom and they don’t really care about hamsters much, so they’re not in this story. Tom is four years younger than me, except for a little while every year after he has his birthday, and before I have mine, when he is only three years younger. But most of the time he’s four years younger, so it’s best to say that.

Anyway, me and Tom are not supposed to talk about the hamsters and what happened to them anymore because it’s best to try to forget about it all, and stop exaggerating, and making it worse than it actually was, and all that. But we couldn’t do that anyway because massacres can’t really get any worse than they are. That is the point of them. This is what it says about massacres in my dictionary.…

massacre [mass-a-ker]noun a general slaughter of persons or animals: “the massacre of millions during the war”

The dictionary in Suzanne’s house said you could have another kind of massacre. It said …

massacre [mass-a-ker ]informal a bad defeat, especially in sports: “England was massacred 5–0 by France in the semifinal”

But the Hamster Massacre was not that kind of massacre. The Hamster Massacre was definitely a formal kind of massacre.

I will keep the story of the Hamster Massacre in the shed with the worms and the wasp trap and the pictures that we traced from Joe-down-the-street’s Mom’s book. Me and Suzanne have made a lock for the shed door, and we’ve got a new password. We are the only ones allowed in the shed, except when we let Tom in, but he gets bored when we are making the locks and deciding on the passwords and stuff, and he is too little for the pictures from Joe’s Mom’s book, so most of the time, when we go in the shed, Tom goes in the house and has a cookie.

© 2010 Katic Davics

About The Author


Katie Davies knows a thing or two about animal disasters. She is the author of The Great Dog Disaster, The Great Cat Conspiracy, The Great Rabbit Rescue, and her first book, The Great Hamster Massacre, which was inspired by true events—when she was twelve years old, after a relentless begging campaign, she was given two Russian Dwarf hamsters for Christmas. She has yet to recover from what happened to those hamsters. Katie lives with her family in North London. Visit her at

About The Illustrator

Photograph courtesy of the author

Hannah Shaw was born into a large family of sprout-munching vegetarians. She lives in a little cottage in the Cotswolds with her husband, Ben the blacksmith, and her rescue dog, Ren. She finds that her overactive imagination fuels new ideas, but unfortunately it keeps her awake at night!

Product Details

  • Publisher: Beach Lane Books (May 3, 2011)
  • Length: 208 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781442420625
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12

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Raves and Reviews

"Inspired use of simple words, straightforward syntax and effective repetition make this a top pick for slow or reluctant readers...Under the plot’s frothy surface lie serious depths...An auspicious debut."--Kirkus Reviews

"A flippy, fun and extremely fast-paced journey into the world of a very likable brother and sister--and their amusing family and friends. Intermittent silly pencil sketches fill the pages diary-style, creating a whimsical mood and adding comic relief.... Giggles are frequent among the kids in this book, and they will infect readers as well."
--BookPage, May 2011

"This British import is an interesting mix of British humor with serious issues interspersed.
Whimsical, cartoonish pen-and-ink illustrations accompany the story and help lighten the seriousness....This is the first in a series that will appeal to fans of Roald Dahl and Dick King-Smith."

--Booklist, July 1, 2011

"For young readers who can handle a bit of the macabre with their giggles, this strange little tale will be perfectly appealing."

--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July/August 2011

"An interesting take on how children deal with grief and shock.... Anna’s voice is engaging, and portrayals of various pets and neighbors (with accompanying hand-drawn side notes and cartoons) will entertain...give this dark comedy to reluctant readers, mystery lovers, and fans of narrator-illustrated fare like Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books or Tom Angleberger’s The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (2010, both Abrams)."

--School Library Journal, September 2011

Awards and Honors

  • Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year Selection Title

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Katie Davies

More books from this illustrator: Hannah Shaw

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