Humphrey’s Playful Puppy Problem (Humphrey’s Tiny Tales)
By Betty G. Birney, Illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Published by: Puffin Books (August 28, 2014)
Available in: paperback, library binding, Kindle, NOOK
At the time of this review there were four books in this series.
Humphrey’s Playful Puppy Problem (Humphrey’s Tiny Tales) brings the popular middle grade series down to the chapter book level with the same characters and format. Humphrey is still the hamster in Room 26, he still goes home with students on weekends, and he still is both endearing and a hero by the end of each book.
I love the older Humphrey series, so I was truly excited to see this in the chapter book format. That said, I like it… but I don’t love it.
First, the good stuff. The text has an easy rhythm that will keep newly independent readers entertained. (“The bus was bumpy and thumpy. I slid from one side of my cage to the other.”) The layout is classic chapter book, with big typeface, lots of white space and illustrations no more than every three pages apart. Children will find these books an easy first dip into the read-alone arena.
My disappointment is perhaps less about what’s wrong than what is missing. The original, older Humphrey series is truly hilarious, inventive and alive with personality and drama. These, perhaps because they have been simplified so much, are not just Humphrey light, but washed-out Humphrey.
Still, I’d recommend them to kids who love humor, animals and need an easy introduction to chapter books. The fact this series could lead those same readers to the middle grade Humphrey books makes me GLAD-GLAD-GLAD.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….