Reviews for World According to Humphrey


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 March 2004
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.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Fall
A hamster describes his experiences as a classroom pet. Humphrey (a sort of Pollyanna-in-a-cage) finds a girlfriend for the school custodian, cures a family of their TV addiction, and helps a girl overcome her shyness. Though some aspects of the plot are far-fetched, the book--like Humphrey--has a good heart. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2004 January #1
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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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 January #3
"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├»vetÚ 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.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 January #4
"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├»vetÚ 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.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 April
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.

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