Authors: Betty G. Birney
adventures, look for
The World According to Humphrey
Friendship According to Humphrey
Trouble According to Humphrey
Surprises According to Humphrey
Adventure According to Humphrey
Summer According to Humphrey
School Days According to Humphrey
Betty G. Birney
G. P. Putnam's Sons
An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
A division of Penguin Young Readers Group.
Published by The Penguin Group.
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Copyright Â© 2012 by Betty G. Birney.
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Published simultaneously in Canada.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Birney, Betty G. Mysteries according to Humphrey / Betty G. Birney
p. cm.â(Humphrey adventures)
Summary: After learning about Sherlock Holmes, Humphrey the classroom hamster follows clues to try and discover why Mrs. Brisbane is gone and Mr. E., a fun but not very educational substitute, is taking her place in Room 26 at Longfellow School. [1. HamstersâFiction. 2. Substitute teachersâFiction. 3. SchoolsâFiction. 4. Mystery and detective stories.] 1. Title. PZ7.B5229Mys 2012 [E]âdc23 2011020075
In memory of Humphrey's #1 fan,
The Case of the Mysterious Detective
utside, the sun was shining, but inside Room 26 of Longfellow School, it was a dark and stormy night.
Mrs. Brisbane, our teacher, was reading us a fur-raising mystery story from a big red book.
A mystery is like a puzzle. It can be something unsqueakably scary, like a thing that goes THUMP in the night.
Or a mystery can be something ordinary, like what happened to Mrs. Brisbane's glasses. Sometimes our teacher can't find her glasses when they're right on her head.
Even though my classmates and I can read by ourselves, we love having Mrs. Brisbane read to us. (It
surprising that I can read, because I am the classroom hamster, but I am also SMART-SMART-SMART, if I do say so myself.)
As I listened, I climbed up to the tippy top of my cage and looked out at my classmates. When school started in September, they were
mysteries to me. I didn't realize that at the beginning of the school year, a new class comes in. A class of
It's taken me a while to figure out why Hurry-Up-Harry is late so often and why Slow-Down-Simon moves so fast. I learned that Rolling-Rosie's wheelchair doesn't slow her down a bit. And I learned that Helpful-Holly is sometimes
Now it's October. I'm still getting to know some of the students who sit on the opposite side of the room from my cage. I haven't figured out why Do-It-Now-Daniel Dee always puts things off and why Stop-Talking-Sophie Kaminski has so much trouble being quiet.
In time, I hope I'll solve those mysteries, too. I guess being a classroom hamster is a lot like being a detective.
A detective is someone who solves mysteries. The story Mrs. Brisbane was reading was about a detective named Sherlock Holmes, who was one smart human. In his picture on the cover of the red book, he wore a strange-looking hat. Mrs. Brisbane said it was called a deerstalker hat. She also said he sometimes played the violin to help him think. (Which made me wish I had a violin of my own.)
There were a lot of stories in the book. This puzzling mystery had to do with a man with flaming red hair, named Mr. Jabez Wilson. He came to Sherlock Holmes and explained something strange that had happened to him. It started when he saw an ad in the newspaper for a job that was
for a person with flaming red hair. I guess that's why the name of the story was “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.”
Mrs. Brisbane asked us, “Why would they only want someone with red hair?”
Kelsey Kirkpatrick's hand shot up so fast, she almost hit Just-Joey, who sat next to her.
“Please Be-Careful-Kelsey,” Mrs. Brisbane said. “So what do you think?”
Kelsey said, “They must be looking for somebody smart! Everybody knows that redheads are the smartest people!”
My classmates all laughed, because Kelsey has red hair. Naturally, she would think red-haired people are the smartest.
Mrs. Brisbane laughed, too. “Yes, Kelsey. Some red-haired people are very smart. But I don't think that was the reason.”
She asked if we had any other ideas.
I thought and thought. If the job needed someone smart, I think they might look for a clever hamster, like me.
Paul Fletcher, whom I think of as Small-Paul, had another idea. “Maybe they needed someone who looked like someone elseÂ .Â .Â . a different person with red hair?” he suggested.
“That's an interesting idea, Paul. You'd make a good detective,” Mrs. Brisbane said.
Paul Green, whom I think of as Tall-Paul, raised his hand. “Maybe the person has to wear a costume,” he suggested, “and they need red hair to go with the costume.”
“Excellent idea,” Mrs. Brisbane said.
Thomas T. True looked puzzled and he raised his hand. “Is this a true story?” he asked. “I mean, is Sherlock Holmes a real person?”
Mrs. Brisbane smiled. “No, it's a made-up story. But Sherlock Holmes almost seems like a real person, and he's been popular for many years. When he solves a mystery, he looks for clues.”
She explained that a clue is information that helps you solve a mystery. And Sherlock Holmes was always looking for clues, because a good detective always has to be sharp-eyed.
Mrs. Brisbane read some more. The red-haired man got hired, but it turned out that the job was nothing more than copying out the encyclopedia every evening.
What a strange job! Why would anyone need someone to copy the encyclopedia? And why would the person have to have red hair?
This was a mystery, indeed!
Suddenly, Mrs. Brisbane stopped reading and closed the book.
“Eeek!” I squeaked. My classmates all groaned and begged her to read more, but it was almost time for afternoon recess.
“When you come back, I'll have a different kind of mystery for you,” she said, which got us all excited again.
Soon, the classroom was empty, except for Og the Frog and me. (Classroom pets like us don't get to go outside for recess.)
Once we were alone, I squeaked to my neighbor, who lives in a tank next to my cage. “Og, why do you think that ad asked for someone with red hair?”
He splashed around a little in the water side of his tank and then leaped up and said, “BOING-BOING!”
He sounds like a broken guitar string, but he can't help it. It's just the sound he makes.
I guess Og doesn't know much about red hair. He doesn't have any hair or fur at all. And he's VERY-VERY-VERY green.
“I don't have any ideas, either,” I said. “But I'm sure going to think about it.”
When my friends came back, they were anxious to hear about the
“You know, class, when we read, we're all detectives,” the teacher said.
We all looked puzzled.
“Sometimes we come across a word we don't know, right?” she asked.
Everyone nodded, including me.
“So to figure out what the word means, we look for a clue,” Mrs. Brisbane continued. “Just like Sherlock Holmes. Try this sentence.”
Then Mrs. Brisbane wrote something very mysterious on the board.
The twins looked so much alike, I was piewhacked when I tried to tell them apart.
That word had never been on our vocabulary list.
Lots of my friends giggled when they saw the word.
“Who knows what
means?” Mrs. Brisbane asked.
Thomas raised his hand. “I think it means âhit someone in the face with a pie.'”
Everybody laughed, including me. But that didn't make much sense in the sentence about the twins.
“Let's try again,” Mrs. Brisbane said. She wrote another sentence.
The rules of soccer can be very piewhacking if you've never seen a game before.
This time, more students giggled.
What was she trying to say? Were the pies flying at the soccer game?
“Look at how the word is used in the sentences to get some clues,” she told us.
Mrs. Brisbane wrote one more sentence on the board.
When the teacher put the wrong answers on the board, there was a lot of piewhacksion in the classroom.
? Was there a pie fight in the classroom? Or had my teacher lost her mind?
“I'm confused!” I blurted out, even though all that my human friends heard was “SQUEAK!”
“Confusion!” Slow-Down-Simon shouted.
I'm sorry to say he forgot to raise his hand before speaking.
“Confused!” Too-Helpful-Holly said. She raised her hand, but she didn't wait for the teacher to call on her before speaking.
“Let's see if that word works,” Mrs. Brisbane said with a smile. “âThe twins looked so much alike, I was
when I tried to tell them apart.'”
That worked for me.
“How about âThe rules of soccer can be very
if you've never seen a game before,'” she continued. “And finally, âWhen the teacher put the wrong answers on the board, there was a lot of
in the classroom.'”
Now I was pawsitive that
“For your homework tonight, here are five more mystery words to figure out,” she said as she handed Rolling-Rosie the homework sheets to pass out.
Unfortunately, Rosie didn't give me one, so I couldn't see what the mystery words were.
I tried making up my own mystery words, like
, but they just made me hungry!
At the end of the day, just before the bell rang, the door to Room 26 swung open and in walked Mrs. Wright, the physical education teacher. She was clutching a pink jacket and, as usual, wore a shiny silver whistle on a cord around her neck.
Mrs. Wright likes to blow that whistle, and when she does, it makes my ears wiggle and the fur on my neck stand up. It's LOUD-LOUD-LOUD. Way too loud for the small, sensitive ears of a hamster.
Mrs. Wright also likes rules. Okay, she
I can understand why someone who teaches children to play games would love rules, because rules are very important to games. But to squeak the truth, I think she loves rules just a tiny bit too much, and I think Mrs. Brisbane agrees with me.
“Yes, Mrs. Wright?” our teacher asked.
Mrs. Wright raised the pink jacket up high. “I believe this belongs to one of your students,” she said. “Normally, I would put it in the lost and found in my office. But her name was inside and I thought she might need it. It's quite chilly out there. Phoebe Pratt?”
Poor Forgetful-Phoebe looked embarrassed as she walked over to get the jacket. “Sorry, Mrs. Wright,” she said.
“Students must be responsible for their belongings,” Mrs. Wright said. “You'd be amazed at what treasures I have in the lost and found.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Wright,” Mrs. Brisbane replied.
Mrs. Wright paused at the door and fingered her whistle. I steeled myself for a loud blast, but luckily, she walked out the door silently.
Thomas T. True waved his hand and Mrs. Brisbane called on him.
“Don't go to that lost and found,” he said. “I went there last year and it was a scary place.”
“Now, what was scary about it?” Mrs. Brisbane asked.
Thomas's eyes grew wide. “There were creepy things like spiderwebs andÂ .Â .Â . claws!”
I felt a shiver. Some of my classmates giggled.
“Oh, and a dead snake.” Thomas stopped and thought. “Maybe it was alive. And I'm pretty sure I saw a severed hand.”
I felt a quiver. There were gasps and more giggles and some of my friends went, “Ewwww.”
Mrs. Brisbane walked between the tables toward Thomas. “Are you sure that's true?”
“Yes, ma'am,” he said. “At least that's what I remember.”
“Well, I don't think Mrs. Wright would keep any of those things in her lost and found,” Mrs. Brisbane said. “Maybe you just imagined it.”
Thomas thought for a second. “Maybe, but I don't think so.”
Suddenly, the bell rang and my friends jumped up from their chairs.
Slow-Down-Simon was the first one out the door, and my other friends were close behind him.
After all of my classmates had left Room 26, Mrs. Wright came back in.
“That Phoebe is quite forgetful,” she said. “Have you noticed?”
“Yes, I have. We're working on it,” Mrs. Brisbane said.
I'd certainly figured out that Phoebe had a problem remembering things like homework and lunches. But I hadn't figured out why. All I really knew about Phoebe was that she lived with her grandmother, who seemed like an unsqueakably nice human.
Mrs. Wright nodded politely and headed for the door. But before she left, she turned and said, “Please try to encourage your students to visit the lost and found. It's right in my office, inside the gym.”