Trouble According to Humphrey

Trouble with a capital T!

Now Mrs. Brisbane was getting angry. “You’ve had Humphrey in your house. I’ve had him in my house. We didn’t get sick. And the children love to have Humphrey come home with them! The parents love him, too.”

“Except for the Paynes,” Principal Morales said.

Mrs. Brisbane got very quiet. She was thinking of something. And I don’t think it was something good.

“Art Patel is absent today and he had Humphrey at his house last weekend. I’ll call his mother and see what’s wrong with him.”

“Good idea. And for now …” Principal Morales stopped and glanced over at Og and me. “Maybe you’d better keep Humphrey at your house. Og, too. Mrs. Payne was pretty upset. She even said she might call a lawyer.”

A lawyer! Was I going to end up in court? Or in jail?

This wasn’t just Trouble with a capital T.

This was TOTAL DISASTER with a capital everything!


Bartleby of the Mighty Mississippi
Phyllis Shalant
Birdbrain Amos
Michael Delaney
Friendship According to Humphrey
Betty G. Birney
The Heroic Adventures of
     Hercules Amsterdam
Melissa Glenn Haber
The Tale of the Swamp Rat
Carter Crocker
The World According to Humphrey
Betty G. Birney

Betty G. Birney



Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

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Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in the United States of America by G. P. Putnam’s Sons,
a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2007

Published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2008

1  3  5  7  9  10  8  6  4  2

Copyright © Betty G. Birney, 2007

All rights reserved


Birney, Betty G. Trouble according to Humphrey / Betty G. Birney. p.   cm.

Summary: Humphrey, the pet hamster of Longfellow School’s Room 26, relates the ups and downs experienced by his human classmates as they begin a project to create a model town complete with houses and community services.

ISBN: 978-1-101-65368-5

[1. Hamsters—Fiction. 2. Schools—Fiction. 3. Interpersonal relations—Fiction.]

I. Title. PZ7.B52285Tr 2007  [Fic]—dc22   2006003604

Printed in the United States of America

Designed by Gina DiMassi and Katrina Damkoehler
Text set in Stempel Schneidler

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

To my son,
Walshe Hinson Birney,
who is as big-hearted
and clever as Humphrey—
but a lot taller!

Special thanks to
Dr. Christina Swindall,
Judy Brady and the
Studio City Animal Hospital,
Studio City, California;
and to Stephanie Kelly
of Slidell, Louisiana.


Before the Trouble

The Problem with Paul

The Situation with the Stevensons

The Great Cage Catastrophe

Miranda in Trouble

The Difficulty with Art

Test Distress

Double Trouble

Too Much Payne

My Payne-f Problem

The Difficulty with Dr. Drew

The Domino Decision

In a Tight Spot

Home Sweet Humphreyville

Humphrey’s Tips for Staying Out (and Getting Out) of Trouble

Before the Trouble

elcome to our brand-new town!”

Mrs. Brisbane’s voice woke me from my cozy afternoon doze. Was I dreaming when I heard her mention a new town? Had we moved while I was having my afternoon nap?

Staying awake is a constant problem for a classroom hamster like me. After all, hamsters are nocturnal, which means we’re sleepier in the daytime than at night. I always try hard to keep up with my fellow students in Room 26. However, I’d spent the long Presidents’ Day Weekend at Kirk Chen’s house. His whole family is funny like he is. It was hard to get much sleeping done there since I was laughing all the time.

But with Mrs. Brisbane’s announcement, I was suddenly wide-awake. I looked around and saw that I was in the same old Room 26 in my same old cage on the table next to the window. Og the Frog’s same old glass house sat next to mine.

Around me were the usual tables and the familiar
students like Speak-Up-Sayeh, Lower-Your-Voice-A.J. and Wait-for-the-Bell-Garth. Mrs. Brisbane stood in front of the class as usual.

I guess I wasn’t the only one who was confused. “What new town?” Heidi Hopper asked.

“Please Raise-Your-Hand-Heidi,” Mrs. Brisbane said. “Since we are studying how communities work, I thought it was time to create our own community of Room Twenty-sixville.”

Whew! I was relieved because I love our classroom right where it is and I wasn’t in the mood to move.

“BOING!” said Og in his twangy voice. I guess he was relieved, too.

“We’ve been studying about what makes a community—right?” asked Mrs. Brisbane.

YES-YES-YES, I’d learned a lot about communities recently. First, I learned that there are two
’s in the word. I’m trying to remember that in case it shows up on a spelling test in the future. I’d learned that a community isn’t just a place on a map, it’s also made up of the people who live there. (I’m sure Mrs. Brisbane meant to include animals, too, but forgot to mention us.)

I’d also learned that everyone’s job helps the community in some way or another. Police officers and fire fighters work to protect us. Some people sell books or clothes or even wonderful pets like me! Some people grow and sell food, some keep the streets clean and others, like Aldo, our custodian, keep the classrooms clean. Doctors take care of people when they are sick and dentists help folks keep their teeth healthy.

Then there’s the biggest job of all: teacher. Teachers like Mrs. Brisbane help us learn about things we wouldn’t know otherwise, such as the life cycle of a frog (though I still can’t picture Og as a tadpole), how to write a poem and the way to add and subtract big numbers. Sometimes my paw gets tired from writing down really long problems in the tiny notebook I keep hidden behind my mirror, but I keep writing anyway because it’s important.

My mind wandered while Mrs. Brisbane continued to talk about all we’d learned until I realized—oh, no!—I wasn’t listening at all! If I kept daydreaming, I’d end up like Pay-Attention-Art Patel, who only paid attention in class about half the time and whose recent grades, I’m sorry to say, were dreadful. Not at all like Speak-Up-Sayeh, the quiet girl who always paid attention and got the best grades in class. (Better than mine, I have to admit.)

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