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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Humphrey" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Humphrey, the class hamster in Room 26, relates the wonderful times he has had with Ms. Mac, a temporary, but long-term, substitute teacher. He is now heartbroken because Ms. Mac has left Longfellow School to teach in Brazil. Mrs. Brisbane, the classroom's permanent teacher, has returned, and Mrs. Brisbane does not want Humphrey to stay. Unlike Ms. Mac, who took Humphrey home with her every day, Mrs. Brisbane leaves him alone in the room for the night. Humphrey meets Aldo, the happy and boisterous janitor.

Mrs. Brisbane has been trying to draw shy Sayeh out of her shell. They make a deal. If Sayeh raises her hand at some point in class during the next week, Mrs. Brisbane will not send a note home to her parents.

Mrs. Brisbane doesn't want to take Humphrey home for the weekend. Principal Morales agrees to take Humphrey, and the following week will begin his weekend stays with students. The principal struggles to maintain order in his own home. Humphrey escapes his cage and will not be coaxed back in until the Morales family works together.

The following week, Aldo admits to Humphrey that he is lonely because he works nights and his friends work during the day. On Wednesday after class, Humphrey escapes his cage for a snack and sees a newspaper clipping advertising a support group for people who work nights. Humphrey leaves it for Aldo to find that night.

Sayeh does raise her hand that week. She volunteers to take Humphrey home. Humphrey soon learns that Sayeh doesn't speak up in class because English is her second language. Her father has a minimal grasp on the language, and her mother and younger brother don't speak it at all. During the weekend, Sayeh explains that Humphrey only understands English, so the whole family must only speak English around him. By the end of the weekend, Sayeh's mother decides to enroll in English classes.

During the next week's Halloween party, each of the students is asked to perform some kind of talent. Sayeh wins with her singing, and Humphrey wins Best Costume. (He stole a rag off Aldo's cart and used it to be a ghost.) Aldo arrives happy that night because he met a special woman at the support group.

Humphrey spends a weekend with A.J., who always talks too loud in class. Humphrey soon learns this is because his home is very loud — the television and radio are always on. Humphrey solves the problem by escaping his cage and unplugging the television. When the family thinks it's broken, they find other means of entertainment, including telling old family stories and playing cards.

When Thanksgiving break rolls around, Mrs. Brisbane is the only person able to take Humphrey home. She doesn't want to take care of the hamster because she's busy taking care of her husband, who was in a serious car accident and is now confined to a wheelchair. While Mrs. Brisbane is out, Humphrey escapes his cage. Mr. Brisbane must recapture him. Mr. Brisbane realizes he doesn't have to let the wheelchair restrict him. He spends the rest of Thanksgiving break constructing wooden obstacle courses for Humphrey to run through. He also makes Humphrey an extension of his cage for the classroom.

Ms. Mac surprises the class at the holiday party with gifts from Brazil. Though Humphrey's happy to see her again, Humphrey realizes he can't go home with Ms. Mac because the students of Room 26 each have problems he can help them solve.

Christian Beliefs

The Brisbanes celebrate Christmas at their home. Several students at the holiday party wear Santa hats.

Other Belief Systems

The class celebrates Halloween together. One of the students Humphrey spends a weekend with lights a menorah with her family.

Authority Roles

Ms. Mac and Mrs. Brisbane both teach Room 26 at separate times. Mrs. Brisbane occasionally holds back a misbehaving student from recess to discuss his or her behavior. Principal Morales gives his own children direct instructions at home and also tells Mrs. Brisbane to allow the children in her class to take Humphrey home for weekends.

Profanity/Violence

None

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

None

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

7 to 9

Author

Betty G. Birney

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Books

Released

On Video

Year Published

2005

Awards

The Children's Crown Award, 2006-2007

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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