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Literature / The Golden Hamster Saga

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The Golden Hamster Saga is a series of children's books written by German author Dietlof Reiche, translated into English by John Brownjohn, and illustrated by Joe Cepeda. The series follows a golden hamster named Freddy Auratus, who learns how to read and write and can communicate with humans by typing on a computer. Other characters include his owner Mr. John, the civilized tomcat Sir William, the singing guinea pigs Enrico and Caruso, and Freddy's six-year-old original owner Sophie.

The books in the series are:

  1. I, Freddy (1998)
  2. Freddy in Peril (1999)
  3. Freddy to the Rescue (2000)
  4. The Haunting of Freddy (2001)
  5. Freddy's Final Quest (2003)

The Golden Hamster Saga contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: In Freddy in Peril, Freddy, Sir William, and the guinea pigs hide out in an empty house scheduled for demolition.
  • Acting for Two: In-universe example. In Freddy's Final Quest, the characters go to see a stage production of Freddy in Peril, with the same two actors playing both Enrico and Caruso and Fleischkopf and Brewster.
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming: In Freddy in Peril, the protagonists are helped by a tribe of rats who give every rat born around the same time a name starting with the same letter.
  • Animal Talk: All mammals except humans can communicate through a telepathic language called Interanimal.
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  • Broken Masquerade: At the end of Freddy to the Rescue, enough people know Freddy can read and write that Mr. John decides it would be safer to make the fact public. That way, if anyone tries to hurt Freddy, they'll have his fans to contend with.
  • Buried Alive: In Freddy to the Rescue, Freddy is in a field hamster burrow when a bulldozer drives right overhead, causing the tunnel to cave in around him. He tries to dig himself out but soon becomes exhausted. He's eventually rescued by Enrico and Caruso.
  • The Cavalry: In Freddy in Peril, Enrico and Caruso manage to communicate to Mr. John that Freddy has been kidnapped by the Mad Scientist Professor Fleischkopf. Mr. John races to Freddy's rescue with the help of Sophie's father Gregory and the reporter Linda Carson. They arrive just as he's about to be dissected.
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  • Code Name: The Muskrats, a group of animal rights campaigners in Freddy to the Rescue, call themselves Muskrat One, Muskrat Two, and Muskrat Three, although they keep forgetting not to use their real names.
  • Cope by Creating: Freddy deals with the traumatic events of Freddy in Peril by writing them down.
  • Cut Phone Lines: In Freddy in Peril, Professor Fleischkopf unplugs Mr. John's computer while he's on a business trip so Freddy can't email him for help.
  • Dreaming Of Things Gone By: In The Haunting of Freddy, the ghost of Grim Harry can cause people to have visions of past events. He puts images in Freddy's head so Freddy can write a historically accurate account of the events leading up to Harry's death, and forces Annabelle and Sebastian to have horrifying visions.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Professor Fleischkopf is researching the nature of intelligence so he can find out how to influence it genetically and rid the world of "knuckleheads."
  • Expospeak: The other animals accuse Freddy of this whenever he uses words like "email" or "internet."
  • Eyes Never Lie: When Professor Fleischkopf first looks at Freddy, his gaze is so cold and sinister that Freddy involuntary snarls.
  • Famed In-Story: Freddy becomes a bestselling author after he stops hiding the fact that he's a literate hamster.
  • Fat and Skinny: Fat, black-and-white Caruso and skinny, red-and-white Enrico.
  • Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: When Professor Fleischkopf introduces himself to Mr. John as Professor Schmidt, Freddy suspects he's lying because he hesitates slightly before saying the name.
  • I, Noun: I, Freddy.
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: Professor Fleischkopf's dimwitted henchman Brewster asks "Have we really broken into this joint to snitch a hamster?" Fleischkopf replies, "Once and for all, Brewster: I'm paying you to obey orders, not to ask questions."
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: In Freddy to the Rescue, the animal rights activist Jenny flirts with a guard named Eddy to get him to help the animals infiltrate a construction site. Freddy originally suggested using Linda Carson, but Eddy's dog preferred Jenny's perfume.
  • I Have Your Wife: Professor Fleischkopf threatens to hurt Sophie if he can't find Freddy. Later, he captures Enrico and Caruso and only releases them after Freddy turns himself in.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Fleischkopf dissects hamsters' brains while they're still alive. He spends most of Freddy in Peril trying to kidnap Freddy so he can find out why he can read and write.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In Freddy in Peril, Freddy asks the rat Karen Graywhisker if Graywhisker the Great is her father. She answers, "Maybe, maybe not. He's our tribal chief, anyway."
  • Nearly Normal Animal: Freddy and his friends are Largely Normal. They can communicate across species and understand human speech, but Freddy is the only one who can actually communicate with humans.
  • Off the Record: In Freddy to the Rescue, an automobile factory is scheduled to be built in a wheat field inhabited by endangered field hamsters. The mayor claims there are no hamsters in the field, but when Mr. John and Linda go to interview him, he admits off the record that he's willing to kill a few dozen hamsters in order to create hundreds of jobs.
  • Painting the Medium: Important words and shouted dialogue are in a different font.
  • Pet's Homage Name: The whistling guinea pigs Enrico and Caruso.
  • Pit Trap: In Freddy to the Rescue, the Muskrats bury boxes around a construction site in the hopes of capturing field hamsters and moving them to another field. They only succeed in capturing Freddy and Sir William.
  • Reverse Arm-Fold: Some of the illustrations show Freddy standing like this.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Enrico and Caruso like to speak in rhyme, to Freddy's annoyance.
  • Scam Religion: The field hamsters in Freddy to the Rescue worship a clay jar called the Jar of Hope into which they put offerings every week. They hope the jar will protect them from bulldozers, but their offerings are really being eaten by the priest Fronso.
  • Scheherezade Gambit: In Freddy's Final Quest, Enrico and Caruso are captured by starving Crusaders. Luckily for them, one of the monks Speaks Fluent Animal, and he forces them to spend hours putting on skits, planning to eat them as soon as they run out of ideas.
  • Sensory Overload: Freddy's sensitive ears and nose make him prone to this. When he first meets Mr. John, he finds the smell of cat and guinea pig so overwhelming that he falls over backwards, then scurries into his cage.
  • Skeleton Key: Early in Freddy in Peril, Professor Fleischkopf tries to break into Mr. John's apartment using two different skeleton keys. It doesn't work, and he eventually gives up.
  • Taught by Television: At the pet store, Freddy learns tricks by watching a wildlife film on the store's TV in order to charm potential buyers.
  • That Liar Lies: In Freddy to the Rescue, Freddy tries to tell the field hamsters that if they stay in their field, they'll all be crushed to death, and they need to find a new home. Fronso yells, "He's lying! The hamster killer will disappear. That's certain, because the Jar of Hope has heard your prayer," and accuses Freddy of trying to steal the field hamsters' stores.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!:
    • Mr. John refers to his cat as William, but when Freddy calls him that, William replies, "Sir William, if you please. Everyone calls me Sir William."
    • When Professor Fleischkopf dismisses his henchman Brewster in Freddy in Peril, Brewster says, "Mr. Brewster, if you don't mind."
  • They Would Cut You Up: In I, Freddy, this is why Mr. John tells Freddy not to tell Sophie that he can read and write.
    Mr. John: It wouldn't be long before some smart showman came along, eager to make a fortune out of Fantastic Freddy, the hamster that can read and write. Either that or you'd wind up in the hands of scientists eager to dissect your brain for research purposes. Does either of those prospects appeal to you?
  • Unfinished Business: In The Haunting of Freddy, the poacher Grim Harry is barred from the afterlife because right before he was hanged, he vowed revenge on the descendants of the baron who condemned him.
  • Vanity License Plate: One of the illustrations in Freddy in Peril shows Professor Fleischkopf's license plate as saying TST TUBE.