Coming Soon: The Amazing Hamweenie June 16, 2012Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
One of the many perks of working at a bookstore is the access to new, unpublished books. Advance copies of picture books may be on thin paper, with no binding and pages falling out, but strong images and characters nevertheless jump out of the often flimsy package. The next several posts will be about a few of these books, soon to hit the shelves at your library or bookstore. Because in some cases, the text and art may not be final, the reviews may be a bit shorter, without quotes, but hopefully you will get excited about these new stories coming soon.
I am currently in love with Hamweenie, the star of the debut book The Amazing Hamweenie, by Patty Bowman, which will be published in October by Penguin. The unnamed narrator is gloriously unreliable, in the same tradition as Lane Smith’s Wolf from The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. According to the narrator, Hamweenie has many complaints about his life. He knows (and the reader is forced to agree) that he is meant to be a star; a magician or a movie star, riding on floats and immortalized as a balloon. Instead, he is the pet of a little girl. The language is fantastic–Hamweenie is alternately abused, sabotaged, starved, tortured and imprisoned. However, the discerning reader (or listener) will notice that there is a large gap between Hamweenie’s claims of horrific treatment and what is actually going on in the illustrations. Bowman’s illustrations use ink and watercolors with a color palette similar to Sophie Blackall, but her lines also recall Rotten Ralph and (very slightly) the cartoons of Roz Chast. Hamweenie is a great addition to a long line of spoiled, ungrateful, diva cat characters.
Also check out Bowman’s blog at pattybowman.blogspot.com. If her other illustrations are any indication, she has other stories about eccentric, unusual characters to tell.