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GUEST REVIEW: Surprises According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney

Allow me to engage in some nepotism here.  Yesterday, tot came home and reported that she had started her own review blog pursuant to instruction from the teacher. Instead of the book reports that I used to write as a school child (or perhaps in addition to), tot and her class are learning to write book reviews on a blog.  They then read each other’s blog posts and exchange comments.  I about died.  I asked for her permission to reprint the review which she graciously gave.  The Humphrey series is one that we read together and have enjoyed thoroughly.  We are now waiting for book 6 to be reprinted in paperback.  I do recommend the series to parents.


Surprises According to Humphrey BirneyWould you like to be a hamster trying to solve your classmates troubles? Well if you would read Suprises According to humphrey by Betty G. Birney.

Humphrey is a classroom hamster and is trying to solve his classmates troubles and on the weekends he goes with a classmate. One time he was going down a hill in a ball when he met a cat. he got in big trouble because the cat was trying to eat him. I reccommend this book to 8 year olds and up and I like this book because it is exciting and when you ever think humphrey is in trouble he actually is not. I would give this book five stars because it is a exciting fun loving story.

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Guest Reviewer


  1. Kristi
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:40:47

    Starting them young! I love it! Are the other kids allowed to leave snarky comments? haha

  2. Lisa Hendrix
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:41:40

    Dear Tot (I feel odd calling you that, since it’s clear you’re not really a tot any longer. Perhaps you should talk to your mom about a new nickname.) —

    You make Surprises According to Humphrey sound like a really fun book! I love animal stories, but never heard about this one. My kids are too old for this, but I’m going to keep it in mind for other children in my life.

    Thanks for sharing your review with us adults.


  3. Susanna Kearsley
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:44:46

    Excellent review. And how awesome to see a new generation of engaged and enthusiastic book bloggers finding their voices!

    I wasn’t aware of the Humphrey series, but this sounds like it would be perfect for my 9 year old son, who likes hamsters and excitement (and will be grateful for the reassurance that Humphrey comes out of his adventures OK).

    Thanks, Guest Reviewer, for describing the book and the reasons you liked it so well.

  4. Angela James
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:47:41

    I’d like to know if Tot would recommend this to B, since she says “8 and up” but B is only 7. Does she think B would enjoy it? Thank you for the review!

  5. Sarah Morgan
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:51:35

    Clearly Humphrey is a true hero with strong moral principles, devoted to helping his friends. He is also bold and brave – it must have taken great courage to face a cat determined to eat him. I’m already a little in love with Humphrey and my interest in this story is heightened by the elements of suspense the reviewer identified in the plot. I once took home the class rabbit and I don’t remember the experience being as exciting as this. This sounds like a perfect read. Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. Sunita
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:55:32

    Dear Tot, thanks so much for this review. I’ve always had a slight prejudice against hamsters, but the way you describe Humphrey and this book have persuaded me to give them another chance.

    I’m glad the book is for 8 “and up” because I am definitely on the “up” side. I will read it with someone closer to 8 so that I don’t miss out on the good stuff.

  7. Sarah
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:57:48

    Jane: you are starting them on the road to perdition so early! I am so proud.

    Tot: Do you think this book would be enjoyable for both boy and girl readers? Excellent review – great job!

  8. Danielle
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:58:59

    The book sounds delightful – thank you, tot!

    Admin: the Amazon and Goodreads links, however, take one to Fracture by Megan Miranda, not Surprises According to Humphrey (which by the way I see is being well received at Goodreads, too).

  9. Jane
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 12:02:42

    @Danielle Thanks! I changed it.

  10. Sharon M
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 12:04:25

    Dear Tot,

    My son is 5 but is reading on a 3rd – 4th grade level. He loves for me to read all sorts of books to him, too. He likes Nate the Great, Magic Treehouse, Henry and Ribsy, Calendar Mysteries, Cam Jansen, and the Ready Freddy series. Would you recommend the Humphrey series to him?


  11. Elyssa
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 12:07:33

    Dear Tot,

    What a great review! This book sounds fantastic and a lot of fun. I like animal stories a lot, so thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’ll definitely pass this review to some friends who have kids who, I think, will enjoy this book.

  12. Shayera
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 12:12:46

    Dear Tot,
    Great review!

  13. MrsJoseph
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 12:26:41

    Great review, tot! My co-workers have been looking for books for their children and I thank you for the recommendation! Now I’ll have something to say the next time someone asks me. :-)

  14. SonomaLass
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 12:37:36

    I see she takes after her mother in more ways than one. Hamsters and gerbils, very similar.

  15. Mara
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:22:36

    I love the funny title of this book, and your lovely review makes me want to go buy the book and read it right away. I might even read it aloud to my two cats (I can tell from your review it will drive them crazy!)

    I hope to read more of your reviews in the future!

  16. Avery Flynn
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:36:20

    Oh, my heart just melted. Will have to recommend this to my Tot Flynn based on Jane’s Tot’s review. :)

  17. Christine M.
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:53:02


    *rolls* Thanks for the laugh! :D

  18. Jaci Burton
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:55:33

    What a great review! I love the sound of this story.

    I’ll have to recommend this to my son, so he can get it for my 8 year old granddaughter, who I’m sure will love it.

    Big thanks to Tot! :-)

  19. Dabney
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 14:00:03

    Dear Tot–

    I think it’s wonderful you’ve written such a nice review. I wondered if the cat turned into a good cat or if he/she stayed a villain. I don’t have any young readers in my house so we are unlikely to get this book. If you get a chance, this reader is curious about the cat.


    Dabney Grinnan

  20. Cheryl McInnis
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 14:29:35

    What a wonderful review! You certainly sold me on this book, my nine year old loves to read and she just got a hamster that looks a lot like Humphrey. I hope we get to see some more of your reviews soon, Tot!

  21. Kate Hewitt
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 15:07:45

    We love the Humphrey stories in this house, but I don’t think we’ve read this one. Thanks for the recommendation. You gave a great summary without any spoilers :)

  22. De
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 16:36:58

    I shared this with the Children’s Librarian where I work. She loved it, and just ordered the book. :)

  23. KKJ
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 16:38:56

    Dear Tot: You wrote a great book review! A few years ago, Betty Birney came to my daughter’s school for a “Meet the Author” program. She was a very nice lady and she answered all our questions and made us laugh with lots of funny stories.

    I’ll bet if you contact her on her website (, Betty Birney would love to hear about your blog and might even chat with you about it.

    We love all the Humphrey books at our house too – have fun reading!


  24. Jane
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 19:30:06

    @Angela James: Tot says “Yes, I would think so because my mom read it to me when I was that age.”

  25. Jane
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 19:32:53

    @Sarah: Tot says “Yes it would because my teacher read me and my whole class The World According to Humphrey Book 1 and the boys in my class liked it.”

  26. Jane
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 19:35:39

    @Sharon M: Tot says “Yes I would because he likes Nate the Great books and Nate the Great books have lots of pages just like Humphrey.”

  27. Jane
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 19:37:25

    @Dabney: Tot says “After the cat tried to eat Humphrey, the cat was never in the book again because Humphrey was at school and at other classmates’ houses. Nothing bad happened to the cat and Humphrey did not get eaten.”

  28. Jane
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 19:43:04

    @Lisa Hendrix: Tot says “I will tell my mom to change my nickname and this time it will be a better one and I hope that you liked my book review. Have a nice time reading.”

  29. Dabney
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 19:50:51

    @Jane: I sense a sequel… Thanks for sharing your Tot pride. Perhaps I’ll see if I can get my 15 year old daughter–she’s six feet tall, so I can’t call her a tot–to write a book review with me. It’s one of my favorite parts of parenting–first reading to them, then having them read to you, then reading to them, then watching them read, and now, reading books and discussing them together.

  30. Nadia Lee
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 21:22:31

    Dear Tot,

    Thank you very much for reviewing and recommending this book. I love hamsters, and I’m always looking for fun animal books for myself as well as for my infant son, who is too young to read, but likes it when I read to him.

    I’ll order the first two in the series for the Boy. :)

  31. lostingreatbook
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 07:38:35

    As a Teacher-Librarian in a Middle School who is currently moderating over 200 blogs for her students, all I can say is YAY for Tot’s teacher!!! Blogs are amazing and give kids so much creative licence beyond the traditional paper-and-pencil book review (full confession: I often suggest a “Dear Author” letter to kids who are suffering writer’s block – and it works every time!).

    As for your review – thanks for sharing your view of the book! It’s a new-to-me book, so I’m always happy about those, and that you liked it so much is really reassuring. While I work in a Middle School (Grades 6, 7 and 8), I have kids reading at all levels, so it’s good to have books that everyone will enjoy. Thank you for the suggestion – I’ve put it on my shopping list for our school library :-)

  32. Jane
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 08:00:52

    @lostingreatbook: I see I got my classification wrong! Thank you for correcting me. I will change the tag to “children”. I wasn’t sure what middle grade was.

  33. Keishon
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 19:34:59

    Chiming in late but great review, tot! Will have to check this series out for my niece.

  34. Dani Alexander
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 11:15:49

    I may have just died of cute. Dear gawd this is awesome. Kids learning about blogging/reviewing. I hope this teacher gets an award. It also makes me miss teaching and almost wish I was doing it again.

  35. Sandy D.
    Feb 10, 2012 @ 13:54:46

    Dear Tot,

    Thank you for a great review, which I’m going to pass on to my 9 y.o. dd.

    You might also enjoy the “I, Freddy” series by Dietlof Reiche. It’s about a golden hamster named Freddy. Though you might warn your parents that after reading it, some houses end up with pet hamsters.

  36. Jen McQuiston
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 19:11:27

    My family listens to the Humphrey series via CD on long car rides, and we ALL enjoy it it, enjoy it, enjoy it. (That is a Humphreyism, in case you were wondering.) And yes, we ended up with a pet hamster.

  37. lostingreatbook
    Feb 13, 2012 @ 09:12:14

    @Jane: Hey, I’m open … just because a child is chronologically in a “middle school” grade doesn’t necessarily mean that they are reading at that level; we have kids reading at everything from grade 2 to university. As long as they are reading, I’ll purchase and provide what interests them, and this book looks like fun!

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