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The World According to Humphrey Hardcover – February 2, 2004


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The World According to Humphrey + Friendship According to Humphrey + Trouble According to Humphrey
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Series: Humphrey (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (February 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399241981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399241987
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Betty G. Birney lives in Los Angeles, California. Her web site is full of fun Humphrey activities and information.

Customer Reviews

My second grade class LOVES Humphrey!!!!
Beth Hedrick
It is so funny and cute I love the book I am now going to read all the Humphrey books.
Mom
I read this book to my 5 and 7 year old boys.
mother of 3 boys

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By CharliesHotMama on December 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was hesitant to buy this for my 9 year-old 4th grader, because the bulk of the reviews talk about how great this series is for very young children. I'm a huge proponent of reading to kids, but anyone with an emerging-to-avid reader knows that if you don't keep their interest up with what's on the shelf, video games and tv will win the round. (At least they'll try!)

The lexile range for the Humphrey series is roughly 640-730... which translates to a 3rd-5th grade reading level, regardless of your child's chronological age. Can younger kids enjoy hearing the story? Of course. Can older kids get a kick out of it? For sure. I just want other people to know that this is a series geared toward the secondary set, 8-11 years old, despite a number of reviews that may have you saying "Wait a minute..."
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By KAM on January 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
My Kindergarten boy LOVES this book! I read it to him every night, and he was very sad when we finished, because he wanted it to go on and on!!!! Humphrey is a delightful character. The teachers, school children and others in the book such as the pincipal, custodian and teacher's husband all are characters the young reader can appreciate and enjoy. Humphrey learns about each character's problem when he goes home with him or her over a weekeend or holiday, comes up with "a Plan" for each to help with the problem, and teaches each child valuable lessons. Nothing not to like here!!!! Great book to be read to Kindergarteners. Good read-it-yourself chapter book for good readers, 2nd grade probably. 15 chapters. Not an early chapter book.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By BCI on September 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book quickly became one of my favorites. It is on the Florida Sunshine State Reader list and is excellent for silent reading or reading aloud. It teaches kids many lessons about people and the way they behave through the eyes of the class pet hamster, Humphrey. I appreciate that it offers an explanation for why otherwise friendly teachers can sometimes be crabby (stressed out from a situation at home), why regular kids can sometimes act out against their friends (upset about new rules at home following a parent's illness), or why children can be extremely shy (self-conscious about their ability to speak English well). It even offers a contrasting view of the life of a principal in school vs. at home. This book was a joy to read, and I'm glad it received well-deserved recognition by making the SSR list.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Silicon Valley reader on August 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is an utterly charming book right up there with such classics as "Charlotte's Web" and the "Cricket of Times Square" where an animal gently befriends and teaches humans lessons one usually doesn't learn in school. All it takes is a "Plan" and sometimes "Great Effort" as Humphrey would say.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Vala on January 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I teach second grade and am reading this to my class. They are really enjoying the story which is told from the point of view of Humphrey the hamster. The writing is kid friendly and very engaging. If I miss a day the kids are asking me when I'll read about Humphrey again. I bought the other book, Friendship According to Humphrey, and plan on reading that to the kids, also.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By F. Wilson on September 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
I've been searching for books to encourage my daughter to read. She's a big animal lover, so I thought that she would certainly be interested in a book with a hamster on the cover! BINGO!! Now she wants all of the Humphrey books . . . that's why I'm here - to order the rest of them! Humphrey is too precious to pass up. I highly recommend him!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My daughter's first grade teacher read this book to her class at the same time that the class adopted a hamster to keep in the classroom. All the students loved the book and my daughter asked me to check on Amazon.com to see if the author had written any other Humphrey books. She said it was the best book she'd ever read or had read to her.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mel Odom VINE VOICE on February 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY is a wonderful book to read aloud to young kids. Told in first-person, the tale conveys a great sense of Humphrey the class hamster and everything that he learns about his class mates and the teacher, whom he believes to be a mean person at first.

Betty G. Birney has struck gold with Humprey, and he's featured in two more books, FRIENDSHIP ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY and TROUBLE ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY. Like the first book, the next two in the series focus on kid issues and the kind of learning that goes on at a young age.

When Ms. Mac purchases Humphrey from the pet store, he doesn't know that he's destined to be placed in Room 26 at the school. Nor does he know that his beloved Ms. Mac is going to leave him there. But she does. However, before she leaves, she tells him to help out the kids and the teacher in the room as much as he can. Humphrey agrees to do that, but he feels very sad.

The emotions that Birney conveys throughout her story is charming. Young readers/listeners will joy at Humprehy's triumphs, and feel sad when they find out the stories of the kids that go to school with him. The way the author paints Humphrey as being looked at but not listened to is something that a lot of kids will probably empathize with. Grown-ups don't always seem to get it when the world is presented through a kid's-eye view.

The chapters are short and punchy, starting and ending a segment of the story that will leave listeners in a good place each time, but still wanting to know what will happen next. THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY is a fantastic book to read to youngsters before bedtime. Each chapter only takes a few minutes and is easily understood while containing a lot of emotion.
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