Posts Tagged ‘The World According to Humphrey’

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Sunday, 29 August 2010

NaBloPoMo August logo27. The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney

Cover of "The World According to Humphrey...

Cover of The World According to Humphrey

This is a cute little book with some interesting points of view. I have reviewed it before, but 2.5 years later isn’t too soon to reread something short and sweet. Basically, Humphrey is the (very intelligent) class hamster for a group of kids (and a few associated adults), and while he aims to have a good time himself, he also has a goal of helping all these people sort out the small and large problems they find themselves with. Always with the difficulty of not being able to speak to them directly, nor even make it clear that he can understand their speech and even their writing. (Well, when it’s in English – he’s not polyglot in human languages, which is relevant to the book.)

All in all, it’s a fun chapter book to read yourself, to younger children, or have the early-to-mid confident readers attack alone. While no horrible situations come up, there is a whole variety of social and familial issues raised, which I’d say should be treated as an opportunity to discuss such things in a safe setting with children. A good thing, in my opinion.

(By the way, the link and cover picture are apparently to the US edition of the book, which isn’t the one I have or read, but I have no reason to think there are any major differences.)

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The first book of 2008

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

And it’s

  1. The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney,

which is a nice little children’s book, and one of four new acquisitions yesterday, from the book tokens my mother sent for my birthday a few weeks ago. (I also got Elizabeth Gaskell‘s Cranfordrecovered from the recent television series, which I saw a little, although not all of – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and the Selected Poems of James Fenton.)

Anyway, Humphrey is a nice little hamster, and a class pet who goes home with different pupils each weekend, solving family problems along the way. In all but one case he does this by methods that a not-so-sentient animal might do by chance, and in that case he isn’t really suspected, so all works out well. I believe there are some sequels already published or on the way, and I might seek them out, from the library at least.

The book is recommended for readers of 7 and up, and I would personally say any child who has or wants a hamster either at home would enjoy it. (Perhaps parents who don’t want to encourage the desire might think again, however!) The responsabilities involved are clearly laid out, but not in an onerous fashion.