Saturday, 4 May 2013

Book review - Reflections of a Solitary Hamster

Overwhelmed by the burgeoning collection of 'how to garden' books, I've been in search of something a little more creative.

Despite a small number of christmas gifts guiding me to grow in small spaces, forage, perfect an allotment and perfect my herbs, I can't help but shy away from celebrity writers both established and rising. 

So I'm off in search of something more creative; where the garden is the inspiration beyond itself. 

My first discovery is an illustrated book called Reflections of a Solitary Hamster by Astrid Desbordes and Pauline Martin. 

Now, this is no everyday hamster...

Hamster is thoughtful. He asks profound questions about the world around and beyond him, like 'are there walnuts on the moon?'

But, as is a hamster's way, he soon enlightens us with his hamster-centric insights ("must be, otherwise what would moon hamsters eat?")

On to the story, our protagonist has a birthday party to organise. We're treated to his everyday moral dilemas such as who is privileged enough to attend, and how can he ensure that each present meets his expectations. 

And so we get to glimpse the lives of those garden creatures who orbit Hamster's world. Mole, snail and hedgehog all grappling with Hamster's whims and charm, often over a hot cup of smoked tea or through a conversation on the rocks.

It's as a prelude to the party that Mole invites Hamster to his garden. Kitted out in his finest gardener's straw hat, we get to see Mole's wonderful peas. Hamster is then treated to cabbage tea and a recital of 'a little masterpiece - The Reflections of a Garden Snail'.

Hamster yawns.

Mole remains determined and plunders his garden to create the kind of garden present which only parents of children making their first recipe in the kitchen can be proud... you'll have to read the book to find out just what.


This is a beautifully illustrated, subtly hilarious and thoughtful story, in which Mole stars as a wholesome and earnest gardener always keen to share the fruits of his work. I couldn't recommend it more highly.

Published by Gecko press, you can find it at Amazon here

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The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

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I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.