Saturday, January 25, 2014

Kid Konnection: The World According to Humphrey

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a very fun book that Booking Son and I both enjoyed.

Summary: You can learn a lot about life by observing another species. That’s what Humphrey was told when he was first brought to Room 26. And boy, is it true! In addition to his classroom escapades, each weekend this amazing hamster gets to sleep over with a different student, like Lower-Your-Voice-A.J. and Speak-Up-Sayeh. Soon Humphrey learns to read, write, and even shoot rubber bands (only in self-defense, of course). Humphrey has friends, adventures, and a cage with a lock-thatdoesn’t- lock. His life would be perfect, if only the teacher, Mrs. Brisbane, wasn’t out to get him! -- Puffin

Our school district decided to try something new this year. On the day we returned from Christmas vacation, they announced that all of the elementary students (Kindergarten through 5th grade) would be participating in the "One District, One Book" program. Basically, every child would receive a copy of the book from the school district, and there would be a variety of events during the month of January to encourage school spirit and a feeling of community.  Since many of the kids can't read an entire book to themselves, family members were encouraged to read the book to the child... no matter the age or grade.

As you already know, I'm a major book geek and could hardly wait for the big announcement. For the first "One District, One Book" selection, they chose THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY by Betty G. Birney. I was somewhat familiar with the Humphrey Hamster series; however, I had never read any of the books.

So for the past few weeks, Booking Son and I have spent a few minutes each evening reading THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY, and I have to say we both enjoyed it quite a bit. This novel was extremely cute and funny, but there were also some valuable lessons that Humphrey and his human friends learned. Overall, I'd say this book was a hit on many levels.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY is actually the story of Humphrey the hamster's time spent in Room 26. Humphrey is a very smart hamster who can not only read but also write!

When the story begins, Humphrey is sad because his favorite human in the whole wide world (who just happened to be a substitute teacher) has just left and Mrs. Brisbane, the regular teacher, is back. Mrs. Brisbane isn't fond of Humphrey and considers him to be a lot of work.

Fortunately, the students love Humphrey and they decide to take turns taking him home on weekends. Each Friday, Humphrey leaves with a different child and leans something about the kids and their families when they are away from school. In addition, Humphrey finds ways to teach the kids (and their parents) a thing or two about life!

Even though Humphrey eventually wins over all of the kids, he's still afraid of Mrs. Brisbane. When Thanksgiving comes and he has to go home with the teacher, he ends up not only discovering more about the very interesting Mrs. Brisbane and her husband but also himself!

I was very excited to discover this series because Booking Son tends to only read non-fiction. He swears he doesn't like fiction (unless it's realistic fiction), and a Hamster who writes in a journal isn't exactly real-life. However, he loved this book and has shown interest in reading more books from the Humphrey series.

As part of the "One District, One Book" initiative, the school district had lots of fun things planned. The kids had the opportunity to make their own Humphrey, dress up as a favorite character from the book or something they want to be when they grow up, and Skype with a family member to share a chapter of the book. The kids (and their parents) also were encourage to "unplug" a day or more during the second week. In addition, each morning the kids participated in a trivia quiz with a question about the chapter that was read the night before -- Booking Son won one day but hasn't received his prize yet. Any my personal favorite, Humphrey had his own Twitter account.

Not surprising, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY has won tons of awards! As a mom, I loved that it was a book that parents and kids both appreciated. In addition, I have a feeling that teachers might like it quite a bit too. There is a curriculum guide and a teacher's guide with some interesting questions and activities

I really enjoyed the entire "One District, One Book" program, and I hope it continues for at least the next two years that Booking Son is in elementary school. Not only was THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY a cute story with some terrific life lessons, but I loved how we looked forward to reading together each evening!

Thanks to the Cumberland County School District for providing a copy of this novel... to Booking Son and every elementary student in the district!

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

I love that the book is told from Humphrey's point of view! I bet his perspective would make us see ourselves differently.

They did something similar to that when Vance was in the 3rd grade - every 3rd grader in the school district read The Wizard of Oz.

Anonymous said...

I asked for picture book recommendations with excellent (non-annoying) writing, and this week I posted about our first stack from the library based on those recs.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

My son likes to read mainly non-fiction too. But he loves graphic novels and some good fiction that grabs his attention from time to time. So glad you enjoyed this one with him!

Stacie said...

We have this book on our shelf from a Scholastic Book Order. I guess we better check it out. Sounds like a great read!