Title: Hoagie & Katie
Author: Rio Koviak
Hoagie & Katie is a KidLit story of an adventure that plays out between two lost animals, a hamster and a capybara. Hoagie, a domesticated hamster, and a wild and free capybara named Katie journey through the waterways and wildness of the jungle in search of Katie’s family.
The plot unfurls seamlessly throughout the entire story from one moment to the next. We find the odd duo bouncing from safety to danger throughout the book, keeping the reader in suspense. It reads in that same familiar way that most of us might remember as a child, snuggled down for bed and listening to a favorite story told by a beloved parent or grandparent.
The chapter titled “Cousins” suggests that Hoagie and Katie are closely related, while capybaras are related closer to guinea pigs and chinchillas, as opposed to hamsters, who are linked closer to mice and rats. Still, it’s a charming thought to think of the two as far-flung family members.
Hoagie and Katie, although they are fictional characters, certainly have a presence. Their personalities share much with ours, such as the fear of separation from their families. And though a hamster and capybara are carrying on conversations, nothing seems too out of place or unnatural.
One aspect of Hoagie’s personality does seem to change by the end of the story, which feels abrupt and out of character. Throughout the story, it appears he’s quite content with his human family and his domestic trappings. But by the end, he depicts his situation like a prisoner of war, rather than a comfortable and beloved family pet.
An out-of-place-moment that caught us off guard was when Hoagie yelled “Poochie!” It seemed to appear out of nowhere and wasn’t clarified as to what significance it had to the story. It pulled our attention away from an otherwise delightful and engaging children’s picture book.
The creative spirit behind Hoagie & Katie is unmatched. Colorful illustrations and animal photographs were perfectly placed in these environments and create a story that is rich with imagination and blends both mediums well. There are areas we feel could give children the wrong idea, such as allow hamsters to eat earthworms and chemically treated grass, which could be harmful.
Editing for this book could use some improvement, focusing on the areas of punctuation and spacing; however, the story is well-written. Without giving away too much of the ending, the reader is likely to feel a bit saddened by the ending, but sometimes that’s needed in children’s literature.
Rio Koviak’s Hoagie & Katie will enchant any who stumble onto its whimsical artwork and delightful story. It’s a story that’s unmatched in terms of creativity and proves worthy to be the first book in its series. Its steady ambling narrative of unusual escapades from beginning to end will keep readers absorbed. The bond between this unlikely pair is sure to make even the most cynical of readers smile.
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