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Book Review

This contemporary adventure book by Betty G. Birney is the third in the " Humphrey" series and is published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Books.

Trouble According to Humphrey is written for kids ages 7 to 9. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

For their next class project, Mrs. Brisbane announces that the students of Room 26 will turn their classroom into a tiny town. Each student is assigned a job designed to help the town run smoothly. The children decide to name the town Humphreyville, after their beloved classroom pet.

Humphrey can open his cage, even when it appears to be locked. Enjoying a bit of freedom in the evening, he is caught by the janitor, Aldo. Aldo leaves a note for Mrs. Brisbane, saying that someone must have left Humphrey's cage open. The next day, Mrs. Brisbane punishes Miranda, who had been assigned the job of Animal Keeper, for not completing her job thoroughly. Humphrey is wracked with guilt because Miranda is blamed even though she did a wonderful job taking care of him. But to show Mrs. Brisbane how he can get out himself would mean sacrificing his freedom.

Paul, a younger student from another classroom, has been given permission to join Room 26 for math. Many of the students are uncomfortable around Paul and even resent him because he is a year behind them but better at math. He helps Art study and slowly befriends the others in the classroom in the same way.

Humphrey spends a weekend with Mandy Payne, who has three rowdy younger siblings and overworked parents. Mrs. Payne works long, late nights at a hospice. Mr. Payne recently lost his job and is struggling to watch their four children. Humphrey enjoys helping his friends work out their problems, but isn't sure how he can solve this one.

The following week, Mandy and her siblings are sick with a cold. Mrs. Payne is convinced their illness came from Humphrey and threatens a lawsuit. Mrs. Brisbane denies these accusations; it is a rainy March and several other students who hadn't taken Humphrey home are absent due to colds. To appease Mrs. Payne and the other parents, however, Mrs. Brisbane takes Humphrey home.

Humphrey hasn't been eating as much as usual, as he is still feeling guilty about Miranda. When the Brisbanes notice his leftover food, they wonder if he really is sick and take him to the vet. Mr. Payne joins them on the visit. Humphrey is given a clean bill of health, and the veterinarian agrees to send her report to the Paynes, the principal and the parents to ease everyone's mind. Mr. Payne is offered a job at the veterinarian clinic.

Humphrey opens his cage door twice in full view of the Brisbanes. Mrs. Brisbane realizes the cage must be faulty and that Miranda had been wrongly accused. She buys Humphrey a new cage with a more secure lock and apologizes to Miranda in front of the class.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Mrs. Brisbane is the classroom teacher. Mr. Morales, the school principal, tells Mrs. Brisbane she must take Humphrey out of the classroom for a few days while Mrs. Payne's complaint is dealt with. Mr. Payne tells Mandy to make dinner for the family because she is the oldest. Mrs. Larrabee is Seth's grandmother (and Humphrey meets her on a weekend visit). Her family initially dismisses her value, but before long, everyone sees her as a source of history and wisdom in the town.





Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

7 to 9


Betty G. Birney






Record Label



Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Books


On Video

Year Published



New Mexico Land of Enchantment Award, 2010-2011


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