By Chris Wilson
Elementary teachers in cotton states have a humorous cotton comic to add to the classroom library this year. THE SECRET ADVENTURES OF HAMSTER SAM: ATTACK OF THE EVIL BOLL WEEVILS is a crazy little comic about all things cotton, King Cotton to be exact: the cotton industry, cotton gin, the cotton predators known as the boll weevils, and the basic steps from harvest to cloth.
All of it is told in anthropomorphic slapstick complete with super hero hamster (inspired by his Macaroni and Cheese Man comic), inchworm sidekick, cheese-fueled time-traveling hamster ball, and a nasty motorcycle gang of boll weevils. Will Hamster Sam and Miles defeat the boll weevils? Of course. Will they learn about cotton? Duh. Will they eat stinky cheese? Who wouldn’t? Will they tell ridiculous jokes and make campy pop culture references? I’d be mad if they didn’t.
This is not serious treatment to the cotton industry, but it is not supposed to be. Learning, after all, can be fun although we teachers can forget that sometimes.
Elementary teachers who are serious about a cotton or inventions unit would be advised to use HAMSTER SAM, but the dangerous and cheese-filled comic has other uses as well. It’s humor, kid humor, and I think budding humorists will not only get a kick out of HAMSTER SAM, but will find inspiration in its narrative and presentation. I had a student once who wrote his own comic titled GUACAMOLE MAN. He stretched his comedic genius there, getting laughs from kids and teachers alike. HAMSTER SAM may well be some kid’s impetus to create his own TITY TITANS (one of the greatest kids comics right now), become a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE staff writer, or end up as a stage comedian. We might as well channel that class clown somewhere productive. I would highly consider using HAMSTER SAM to demonstrate to kids how to properly use comedy to tell a romping tale or convey information. Good writers use comedy but sometimes we overlook comedy’s importance in rhetoric.
Chris’ Rating: Ages 7 and older
The only thing to be concerned about are students’ sides splitting.
Author and Illustrator: Dave McDonald
Publisher: Hamster Sam Comics
Genre: Historical fiction
Color: Full color