Humphrey's Great-Great-Great Book of Stories by Betty G Birney

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Humphrey's Great-Great-Great Book of Stories by Betty G Birney

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Buy Humphrey's Great-Great-Great Book of Stories by Betty G Birney at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A brilliant compilation of three full novels, to entertain the young ones with a most lovable classroom hamster and his adventures.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 512 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 978-0571255948

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There is nothing quite like being proven correct. And this is one of those rare times I have been. From the evidence of the sixth main Humphrey book, Holidays According to..., I declared the whole series to be quite brilliant. The books, I decided, were cute without ever being cloying, clever without being too clever-clever, full of morals without ever forcing them on the reader, and packed with entertaining plot and lovely characters. And now the book reviewing gods have decided I read a fantastic collection of the last three novels, to expand my knowledge of the series.

And, like I say, I was proven right when I looked at Holidays... and saw the adventure Humphrey had, not when the school where he lives got closed down, as he feared, but when he was taken instead on summer camp. That's here, as until February 2011 there won't be any further words of delightful wisdom by Ms Birney. Also here is More Adventures According to..., where the whole classroom is taken over with the joys of pirates and building model boats, and a bit of bad teamsmanship might land our hero hamster in deep water indeed.

Best, though, is Surprises According to..., for it covers the usual ground of Humphrey's human schoolmates not getting along completely, plus the school cleaner being taken over by aliens (I jest not) AND the lovely teacher not coming straight with everyone.

And that everyone includes Humphrey. He's a brilliant character. He thinks very human thoughts, and tries to communicate with the kids in school, but of course can only squeak. But he thinks of himself as a valid classmate with everyone, even taking notes when new vocabulary is introduced, in his own private notebook. He will definitely open up new worlds to the under-ten readers of these books, allowing us to have obvious lessons about the brilliance of libraries, the benefit of playing along, and probably much pestering to get a hamster for your own household.

These novels are all finely judged, with a great sensible plot, human problems, and daring adventure for Humphrey. The fact here we get three entire stories in one huge compilation is, as the front cover artwork suggests, cause to bring out the party hats. It's a huge chunk of writing - when did you give your under-ten a 500pp book, with no pictures, and hope them to wallow through it effortlessly? But I love these books and what they're trying to do, and it's such an entertaining (and now brilliant value) chunk of writing, it probably sneaks into one of my book of the year summaries.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

We also like the series containing Grk Down Under by Joshua Doder, for child-friendly, animal-based adventure.

Buy Humphrey's Great-Great-Great Book of Stories by Betty G Birney at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Humphrey's Great-Great-Great Book of Stories by Betty G Birney at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Humphrey's Great-Great-Great Book of Stories by Betty G Birney at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Humphrey's Great-Great-Great Book of Stories by Betty G Birney at Amazon.com.

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