Someone in his pet shop keeps stealing Mr. Venezi’s sandwich and he assumes it’s the koalas, er, hamsters. (Mr. Venezi isn’t very good with telling animals apart.) Hamisher, a new hamster in the shop, knows it isn’t the hamsters who are stealing the sandwich. If it isn’t the hamsters, though, then which of the animals in the pet shop is guilty? Hamisher wants the guinea pig Sasspants to solve the crime, but Sasspants just wants to be left alone with her books. Maybe if she just catches the thief, then Hamisher will leave her alone!
Venable’s story succeeds because of unique characters, a creative setting, and sharp humor, though the mystery gets lost a little along the way. Unlike so many animal detectives in children’s fiction, Sasspants has no interest in being a detective. She only helps Hamisher to get him to leave her alone. Hamisher, on the other hand is an airhead, but his eagerness is hard to ignore. The wacky cast of characters includes Gerry, a snake with a slimy personality; Janice and Clarisse, two very vain chinchillas; the mouse that Clarisse forces to be her toy doll; and the goldfish, whose group mind doesn’t have enough brain power to hold a complete thought….