Remember those nothing-short-of-amazing YouTube videos of tiny hamsters eating tiny food? The ones that made you squeal with delight at the tiny animals devouring miniature burritos, birthday cake and a Thanksgiving meal? The Los Angeles-based creators of the videos have turned their hamster sensation into a book, and it's coming out next week.
"Tiny Hamster Is a Giant Monster," by Joel Jensen, Joseph Matsushima and Amy Matsushima (the folks behind the Hello Denizen YouTube channel that produced the videos), is being published as a Simon & Schuster picture book for young readers.
And this time, the hamster is a giant.
"When we started talking about doing this book, we wanted to scale things up, go a little more epic, and this was such an obvious answer to us," said Jensen, who added that he and Joseph Matsushima were fans of monster movies growing up. "We got to dress the little hamster up, build a miniature city and really just have fun with it."
Spoiler alert: In the book, the tiny hamster eats some goo and turns into a hamster Godzilla with a giant appetite. He munches on trees, eats trains and even billboards.
Because this is a book for young readers, the hamster does not eat or kill people.
So what does it take to make a tiny hamster video/book? An art director, costumer designer, animal trainer, weeks of preparation, 10 to 12 hour days of shooting and kale. Yes, kale.
Those burritos may look like burritos in the video, and the trees like actual trees, but they're all made with ingredients that are safe for hamsters to eat. In the book, the trees are made out of semi-dried macaroni noodles and kale, the train he devours in one scene is made of penne pasta, a red pepper stripe and a lone piece of spaghetti, and the helicopters were created by art director Abby Childs using Brazil nuts dyed in blueberry juice, propellers made of celery and feet made from sliced radish.
"She spent hours building one helicopter and the hamster consumed them in one millisecond," said Matsushima. "In the middle of the shoot we were yelling 'more helicopters, more helicopters.'"
And of course, the tiny hamster needs a costume.
"His paws grew huge and clumsy, and he could feel sharp spikes spring out of his back. Then he turned green," reads one of the book's pages.
Costume designer Catherine Malloy created a monster costume for the hamster.
"She had to build it ergonomically so that it was comfortable and not restrictive," said Matsushima.
So what's next for the tiny hamster? Matsushima and Jensen said they're in the process of figuring out what to do next with their tiny hamster character. So their legions of fans will just have to wait and see.
"Tiny Hamster Is a Giant Monster" was shot as a video first, and both the video and book will come out June 2. The book is available for pre-order now for $17.99, and should ship Tuesday.