Book review: The Amazing Hamweenie

In this debut picture book, Patty Bowman tells the story of cat and his owner from two different perspectives.  Photo: Patty Bowman

SILVER SPRING, Md, December 29, 2012 - The Amazing Hamweenie by Patty Bowman ISBN: 9780399256882

Hamweenie is a narcissistic cat whose story is told through the perspective of a sympathetic narrator, while reality is depicted through the pictures of the story.

Hamweenie dreams of grandeur and stardom, but feels neglected and abused; although he is loved by his owner. His owner is a sweet little girl. His torture is being petted and laying in the sun.  Hamweenie attempts various escapes from this life, including by crawling into backpacks.

What Hamweenie sees as horrible treatment, being pushed around in a baby carriage and being included in tea parties, is just how the little girl expresses her affection. The narrator tells the reader that Hamweenie’s living conditions are atrocious, while the pictures show the opposite: Hamweenie lounging around, reading magazines and being feed fish treats. He plays video games and enjoys gourmet meals, but still the sympathetic narrator complains about how horrible his life is.

Photo by Robynlou Kavanagh.

The book ends with Hamweenie waiting for “the endless horrors,” to come to an end, which is depicted by him curling up sweetly next to his owner.

Irony is key to this book, so younger children may be initially confused by the contradictory nature of the words and the pictures. There are also words that are a little oversized for a young child’s vocabulary, such as “atrocious.” However, if you treat the story as a vocabulary builder, with the few words per page, this story is good for those with short attention spans.  

Photo by J. Aaron Farr. Click to enlarge.

This is a fun book for adults as well as children, and especially cat lovers. Having modeled Hamweenie after her own cat, Bandini, Bowman truly captures the fickle nature of the domesticated feline. Any cat owner will appreciate and recognize the contrary nature of Hamweenie and will easily recognize their own cats’ behavior in that of the title character.

The illustrations are brightly colored watercolors. The pictures themselves are fun, and Hamweenie’s dreams and the depictions of his daily life are whimsical. Children will laugh at the pictures of the cat playing video games or being included in a tea party.

The Amazing Hamweenie is Patty Bowman’s debut and given the whit that is evident in her first book, she is sure to have future successes. Published by Penguin Group in October of 2012, The Amazing Hamweenie is available in hardcover or ebook.


Follow Brighid on Twitter a @BrighidMoret and receive updates when new columns post on Facebook. Read more about first time parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times. Find more reviews of children’s picture books at Big Reads For Little Hands.

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Brighid Moret

Brighid is a freelance writer and first time mother.  She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.  Find her on Facebook @Brighid Moret


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