Cover image for The world according to Humphrey
Title:
The world according to Humphrey
Author:
Birney, Betty G.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
124 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
Humphrey, pet hamster at Longfellow School, learns that he has an important role to play in helping his classmates and teacher.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
670 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.2 4.0 77182.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 3.6 8 Quiz: 36964 Guided reading level: O.
ISBN:
9780399241987
Format :
Book

Available:*

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On Order

Summary

Summary

The first 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! There are always adventures in the classroom and each weekend he gets to sleep over with different students. Humphrey learns to read, write, shoot rubber bands (only in self-defense, of course), turn off TVs, teach English as a second language, and more. With a lock-that-doesn't-lock and an adventurous spirit, what more could a mischievous hamster want?

With a fresh voice and an engaging, hamster's-eye view of school, families, and treats to hide in a cheek pouch, Betty G. Birney's Humphrey will elicit laughter and demands for hamsters in every elementary classroom.


Author Notes

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.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2-5. Humphrey the hamster enjoys being Room 26's classroom pet. He adores Ms. Mac, and every day brings new learning and experiences. Then Ms. Mac unexpectedly leaves; worse, returning teacher Mrs. Brisbane despises small furry creatures--leaving Humphrey both brokenhearted and worried about his future. Going home on weekends with school staff members and students helps, revealing diverse, often surprising stories and situations that allow both Humphrey and his human caretakers to learn from one another. Humphrey, a delightful, irresistible character, is big hearted, observant, and creative, and his experiences, whether escaping a nosy dog or helping an immigrant family speak English, range from comedic to touching. His lively, first-person narrative, filled with witty commentary on human and hamster behavior, makes for an engaging, entertaining read that illustrates you can learn a lot about yourself by getting to know another species. A wonderful addition to the animal-fiction collection, this story should have wide appeal. --Shelle Rosenfeld Copyright 2004 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

"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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.