World According to Humphrey
by Birney, Betty G.

Humphrey, pet hamster at Longfellow School, learns that he has an important role to play in helping his classmates and teacher.

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,, is full of fun Humphrey activities and information.

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. ((Reviewed March 1, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist 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) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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