Elementary: Great For All

Mysteries According to Humphrey

Betty G. Birney




Racial Diversity

Mrs. Brisbane, the regular teacher in Room 26 at Longfellow School, is missing. In Betty Birney’s 8th Humphrey novel, Mysteries According to Humphrey, Humphrey is confronted with a series of mysteries all associated with the central questions, “What happened to Mrs. Brisbane?” and “What’s up with the weird new substitute teacher?”

The well-meaning Mr. E, arrives in the classroom for an extended period. Mr. E. brings enthusiasm, creativity and verve. But his different style is hard to adapt to and it disrupts the classroom’s rhythm.

Mr. E isn’t a bad guy, but he has a very different approach than Mrs. Brisbane. He wears a pin that says “Give Peas a Chance.” He doesn’t assign much homework. He awards the weekend caretaking of Humphrey to the winner of the spelling bee. He wants students to put “pizzazz” on the Get Well card for Mrs. Brisbane. His general philosophy is: “Kids will be kids.”

Humphrey feels this dissonance acutely, and your students will, too. Most students have faced an unsettling substitute teacher who is also funny and engaging. That’s the beauty of the Humphrey series. Students will recognize the classroom environment. There’s something from their own classroom and their own lives in every Humphrey novel. Humphrey perseveres, using his resources, both mental and social, to navigate the tension and solve the mystery of Mrs. Brisbane’s disappearance.

It’s a healthy tension though. Humphrey has lots of friends in Room 26 – from Forgetful-Phoebe to Too-Helpful-Holly. Hamster and students work together to collect clues and use deductive reasoning to discover the source of Mrs. Brisbane’s disappearance.

Along with Humphrey and the students of Room 26 and Longfellow School, your students will learn about mysteries, how to be alert for clues, how to use piece clues together, and even about that famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. They will learn what “pizzazz” is. They will fear – with Humphrey – the gym teacher’s shrill whistle. And of course they will badly want their own classroom pet.

There are always new and wonderful mysteries and discoveries in a Humphrey novel!