The World According to Humphrey (Humphrey Series #1)

The World According to Humphrey (Humphrey Series #1)

4.5 131
by Betty G. Birney
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The first book in the series about everyone's favorite classroom pet!

You can learn a lot about life by observing another species. That’s what Humphrey was told when he was first brought to Room 26. And boy, is it true! In addition to having FUN-FUN-FUN in class, each weekend this amazing hamster gets to sleep over with a different student, like

See more details below

  • Checkmark Peanut Butter & Cupcake Only $7.99 with the Purchase of Any Kids' Book  Shop Now

Overview

The first book in the series about everyone's favorite classroom pet!

You can learn a lot about life by observing another species. That’s what Humphrey was told when he was first brought to Room 26. And boy, is it true! In addition to having FUN-FUN-FUN in class, each weekend this amazing hamster gets to sleep over with a different student, like Lower-Your-Voice-A.J. and Speak-Up-Sayeh. Soon Humphrey learns to read, write, and even shoot rubber bands (only in self-defense, of course). With lots of friends to help, adventures to enjoy, and a cage with a lock-that-doesn’t- lock, Humphrey's life is almost perfect. If only the teacher, Mrs. Brisbane, wasn’t out to get him!

Boys and girls can't help falling in love with Humphrey!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A likable hamster narrates this novel for newly independent readers….Birney succeeds in developing the animal’s character without the narrative becoming too cute or contrived. Humphrey's views underscore the importance of knowing the full story before making judgments, and his presence makes a positive difference in the lives of the people he meets. All in all, a winning book that will appeal to children who like tales about animals, school life, and friendship."—School Library Journal

"The story deftly avoids triteness while still feeling breezy and acknowledging deeply felt troubles, such as Mrs. Brisbane's husband’s depression. The pet-care tips punctuating each chapter would benefit any youngster thinking about getting a hamster, but for everyone else, this read is simply good-good-good."—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"You can learn a lot if you stop spinning and start listening." Such is the deep moral for this breezy, well-crafted first novel, narrated by a hamster purchased by a substitute teacher for a middle-school classroom. Humphrey's heart feels broken when the substitute's stint is up ("I'm never going to squeak to her again," he laments)-and it doesn't help that the regular teacher hates "rodents." But the class parents and the Most Important Person at Longfellow School (the principal) hatch a plan: a different student will take Humphrey home each weekend. "It's a wonderful way to teach the kids responsibility," enthuses one mother, but Humphrey has his own ideas, believing it is up to him to help solve "his" students' problems. This cheerful set-up leads to a succession of sweet-natured encounters. For example, a stay with "Speak-Up-Sayeh" prompts the shy girl, who worries that others will laugh at her accent, to get her family to finally attempt some English ("No wonder Sayeh got 100% on all her vocabulary tests," says Humphrey with comic na vet when he hears them speaking a foreign language. "She and her family knew a lot more words than I did"). Humphrey's matter-of-fact, table-level view of the world is alternately silly and profound, and Birney (Tyrannosaurus Tex) captures his unique blend of innocence and earnestness from the start. Given the perky protagonist and chipper delivery, middle-grade readers are sure to savor this classroom caper. Ages 7-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Humphrey, resident class hamster, cleverly tells readers about his adventures in the classroom, in children's homes, and, finally, in understanding the seemingly austere Mrs. Brisbane. Humphrey, in the manner of Amos who accompanied Ben Franklin on his rounds, is a good observer both of humans and of cause and effect. In the course of the story, he helps the night custodian find a girlfriend by putting a clipping he has chewed from the newspaper on the overhead projector. He also assists Sayeh in overcoming her reluctance to speak out in class, and he helps her Indian parents practice English when he visits her house). He visits the principal's house where he guides noisy kids. While on another visit he helps a family turn off the TV (Humphrey unplugs it because his sleep patterns are being disrupted by all of the noise and distraction.). It is a funny, lively story with plenty of wordplay around the word "squeak" (squeak up, unsqueakably bad), and there's never a doubt that the hamster rules and all problems are solvable. Lovers of Beverly Cleary's "Ralph the Mouse" series will appreciate another similar story and advanced readers will gleefully recognize the passing reference to Brian Jacques' "Redwall" series that the teacher must be reading aloud to the class. While text is interspersed with facts from a hamster care book, it ends with Humphrey's "Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans," a pleasant symmetry. There's enough to discuss here that this book would make a good read aloud or a good choice for a small group, plus it would enliven the collection of talking animal stories so beloved by second graders on up. 2004, Putnam, Ages 7 to 11.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-A likable hamster narrates this novel for newly independent readers. A warmhearted substitute teacher brings Humphrey to Room 26, explaining, "You can learn a lot about yourself by taking care of another species." Unfortunately, when Mrs. Brisbane returns to school, she is less than enthusiastic about taking on a class pet, and is unaware of the impact that the hamster has on the students, as well as on the families with whom he spends his weekends. Humphrey manages to bring out hidden courage and kindness in those he visits. He helps the members of one family turn off the TV and rediscover the pleasure of one another's company; he encourages a shy girl to speak up; and he even helps the principal gain control over his own less-than-obedient offspring. Humphrey's unique opportunity to observe the students, both at school and at home, develops into a compelling picture of Room 26. The hamster's experiences at Mrs. Brisbane's house round out that portrait. Birney succeeds in developing the animal's character without the narrative becoming too cute or contrived. Humphrey's views underscore the importance of knowing the full story before making judgments, and his presence makes a positive difference in the lives of the people he meets. All in all, a winning book that will appeal to children who like tales about animals, school life, and friendship.-Pat Leach, Lincoln City Libraries, NE Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Humphrey's world consists of Room 26, an elementary classroom, and the children's homes he visits on weekends. Humphrey is wry-humored and big-hearted . . . for a hamster. He's also smart, having learned to spell in only a week, and has a propensity to repeat exclamations thrice, "Glad-glad-glad!" Everyone adores Humphrey except the teacher, Mrs. Brisbane, who vows to be rid of him. But Humphrey has a greenthumb when it comes to humans, and everyone with whom he has contact benefits from his helping hand. Humphrey assists a shy student in finding her voice, the lonely janitor in finding love, and even Mrs. Brisbane comes to understand that "you can learn a lot about yourself by taking care of another species." The story deftly avoids triteness while still feeling breezy and acknowledging deeply felt troubles, such as Mrs. Brisbane's husband's depression. The pet-care tips punctuating each chapter would benefit any youngster thinking about getting a hamster, but for everyone else, this read is simply good-good-good. (Fiction. 7-11)

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142403525
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
08/28/2005
Series:
Humphrey Series, #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
36,960
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Betty G. Birney has won many awards for writing for television, including an Emmy, three Humanitas Prizes, and a Writers Guild of America Award, and she won the Christopher Award for Friendship According to Humphrey. In addition to the Humphrey series, she is the author of The Seven Wonders of Sassafrass Springs and The Princess and the Peabody's. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where her parents grew up as neighbors on Humphrey Street. Her website, bettybirney.com, is full of fun Humphrey activities and information.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >