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 classmates and the teacher, whom he believes to be a mean person at first.
Betty G. Birney has struck gold with Humphrey, 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 Humphrey'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.
Teachers who read to their classes will appreciate this book on more than one level. On one hand, the book grabs the listener's attention. On the other hand, many of the stories and problems Humphrey deals with during the course of the book are the same ones the kids might have to deal with during school.
My nine-year-old and I enjoyed the book a lot. I was a little leery of it at first, thinking it might be boring, but there was plenty of action and plenty of emotion. Afterwards, I found that we were talking about a lot of the story problems as my son thought out-loud and compared those problems to how he felt at times, and how other kids in his class might feel.
The World According to Humphrey is entertaining and insightful. And short enough to be read in a few days.