The Copper Tree

Testimonials

Help a Hamster is one in a series of picture books by Hilary Robinson dealing with challenging issues for children – in this case, adoption.

There was a surprise in store for the children of Copper Tree class when they returned to school after the holidays. Henry, the class hamster, had come back with four baby hamsters. A shock for everyone, as they thought Henry was a boy!

With the baby hamsters now needing new homes, Alfie Tate is assigned hamster monitor. Their teacher, Mr Davis, thought Alfie was the best person for the job, as he himself is adopted and could tell the rest of the class what it was like to go to a new home.

This beautifully illustrated book is aimed at children between the ages of four and seven. It would be a rewarding book to read alongside your child to help them with their understanding of adoption. It also raises others issues such as bullying when the smallest hamster, Alfonzo, is ignored by his mother, Henry, and pushed aside by the others. Alfie takes pity on poor Alfonzo and when he is the last to be found a new home, Alfie’s adopted mother agrees to him taking the hamster home as his own.

Help a Hamster is the third in the Copper Tree class series. Other books in the series deal with issues such as bereavement, the elderly, divorce and prejudice.

  • Adoption Today
  • Karen Harrison (adoptive parent)

Encourages children to think about adoption, blended families and attachment through the parallel stories of the little boy Alfie, whose mother gave him up for adoption, and the baby hamster, Alfonzo, who is rejected by his mother and litter-mates.

When Henry the hamster arrives back at school after the holidays having given birth to four babies, all the members of Copper Tree Class are excited, but one baby hamster is neglected by his mother and unhappy. Alfie, who was adopted at three years old, names the hamster Alfonzo and takes a particular interest in his welfare. The class set about finding homes for the baby hamsters, but they can’t find a home for Alfonzo, until Alfie’s Mum decides he can come and live with them. Soft pencil and watercolour illustrations create a gentle and comforting atmosphere in which children can explore ideas of love, family and belonging.

The Copper Tree series of books following the lives of a group of schoolchildren are known for addressing topics and themes that affect small children.

Aimed at youngsters aged four to seven, the books – by Yorkshire author Hilary Robinson – tackle social issues from a child’s perspective, in a gentle, reassuring way. Interwoven into the charming picture books are themes such as bereavement, divorce and prejudice.

The latest in the series is Help A Hamster, helping children gain a greater understanding of what it is like to be adopted.

The book starts with a surprise in store for the children of Copper Tree class when they return to school after the holidays and discover that Henry, the class hamster, has four baby hamsters. A shock for everyone as they Henry was a boy hamster!

With the babies needing homes, Alfie Tate is assigned hamster monitor. The teacher, Mr Davis, thinks Alfie is the best man for the job as he is adopted and can explain to the class how it feels to go to a new home.

The story also covers the issue of bullying, with the smallest hamster, Alfonzo, ignored by his mother and pushed aside by the others. Alfie takes pity on Alfonzo and when he is last to be found a new home, Alfie’s mum agrees to him taking the hamster home.

Accompanied by lovely pastel-toned illustrations by Mandy Stanley, this is the kind of book I remember reading as a young child. It tackles subjects which may be new or difficult for children, and shows how they can find a way to deal with these issues.

Hilary is an award-winning author, radio producer and feature writer. The author of more than 40 books for children, including the bestseller Mixed Up Fairy Tales, she has had books published around the world. Related to the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, Hilary was brought up in Nigeria and England and now lives in Yorkshire with her family.

Mandy trained for a career in fashion before discovering a passion for writing and illustrating children’s books. She is best-known for her popular picture book series featuring a curious young rabbit called Lettice.

  • Inside Out: reviews
  • Inside Out: Reviews
  • Help A Hamster review in Inside Out

This is a very touching book about being adopted. When the class hamster has babies, Alfie Tate becomes involved in finding new homes from them. This is especially poignant because Alfie explains to the class that he was adopted when he was little. He shares his life story book, which has pictures of him when he was a baby and letters from people who helped him. One hamster, named Alfonzo, always looks sad, so Alfie takes special care of him, eventually adopting Alfonzo himself and making him a life story book. There are lots of important issues raised by this story, all covered gently and sensitively.

June magazine, issue 33

  • Juno Review
  • Juno Magazine
  • Juno Magazine

Hilary Robinson and Mandy Stanley make an excellent partnership. All nursery and primary schools should have a copy.

  • Children’s Webmag
  • Children's Webmag

Brilliantly written and illustrated. Answers questions with sensitivity and care.

  • Read it Daddy
  • Read it Daddy

A touching and insightful story that helps children understand more about adoption.

  • Bookseller’s Children’s Buyer Guide
  • Bookseller's Children's Buyer Guide