Authors: Betty G. Birney
adventures, look for
â¢ The World According to Humphrey
â¢ Friendship According to Humphrey
â¢ Trouble According to Humphrey
â¢ Surprises According to Humphrey
â¢ Adventure According to Humphrey
â¢ Summer According to Humphrey
â¢ School Days According to Humphrey
â¢ Mysteries According to Humphrey
â¢ Winter According to Humphrey
Humphrey's Book of FUN-FUN-FUN
Humphrey's World of Pets
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
Published by the Penguin Group
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Copyright Â© 2014 by Betty G. Birney.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Birney, Betty G., author, illustrator.
Secrets according to Humphrey / Betty G. Birney.
pages cm.â(Humphrey adventures ; 10)
Summary: Humphrey, the pet hamster of Longfellow School's Room 26, learns that his classroom is full of secrets, the most important of which is that a student will be leaving soon.
[1. HamstersâFiction. 2. SchoolsâFiction. 3. SecretsâFiction.] I. Title.
To my granddaughterâ
and Humphrey's friendâ
Remy Bella Frank.
Thanks to Susan Patron for helping to guide Humphrey and me through the library!
Secrets of the Nile
f I've learned one thing in my job as a classroom hamster, it's that there is no such thing as an ordinary day at school. But the day the secrets started, I couldn't have guessed what was in store for us in Room 26.
The holidays were over and I was HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY to catch up on my sleep. I followed along with the morning lessons, but I also took time to get a little rest.
After my friends left for mid-morning recess, I settled down in my nice, soft bedding and closed my eyes. When I opened them again, I was unsqueakably shocked to look up and see our teacher, Mrs. Brisbane, writing new vocabulary words on the board.
There was nothing strange about that.
But there was something very strange about
she was writing.
Instead of writing words like “marsh,” “journey,” and “approach,” our teacher was writing odd strings of letters that didn't look like any words I'd ever seen.
I think “journey” is a difficult word to spell. But “pharaoh” and “hieroglyphics”
How can those letters work together at all
Of course, Mrs. Brisbane doesn't normally put nonsense words on the board.
Another thing I've learned in my classroom job is that just when you think you understand everything about how humans think and act, you learn something completely new.
Since I was the only one there to notice what was happening and I am a good classroom hamster, I felt I had to squeak up.
Are you sure those are words
” I asked.
All right, I know that all she heard was SQUEAK-SQUEAK-SQUEAK, but I wanted to make my point.
“Quiet, Humphrey,” Mrs. Brisbane said. “You'll find out what's happening soon enough.”
“BOING-BOING!” my neighbor, Og, commented.
He lives in a tank right next to my cage.
He makes a strange sound like a broken guitar string, because he's a strange frog.
I don't speak frog, but I think he was as confused as I was.
” I squeaked to him.
“BOING-BOING-BOING!” He leaped into the water and made a lot of loud splashing sounds.
Mrs. Brisbane stopped writing and looked in our direction.
“Sometimes, I think you two actually understand everything that's going on in Room Twenty-six.” She chuckled and went on writing.
“Of course we do!” I replied. “We're your classroom pets! We know everything that's going onâexcept what you are doing right now.”
Og splashed and splashed and splashed some more, while I hopped on my wheel and went for a spin.
When I'm worried or excited, spinning helps me think.
Soon, my friends all returned to Room 26.
After they hung up their coats and stored their hats and gloves and scarves, they were back in their seats and looking at the board.
Slow-Down-Simon's hand went up right away.
“Mrs. Brisbane, are we supposed to learn those words
” he asked. “Because they look really hard!”
“YES-YES-YES!” I agreed, but Mrs. Brisbane just smiled and nodded.
“Yes, they are, class, but you're going to be learning a lot about these words in the next few weeks,” she explained. “Now, what do you think we're going to be studying
Small-Paul raised his hand. (We have two boys named Paul in our class. Since Paul F. is shorter than Paul G., I call him Small-Paul.)
“Something to do with Egypt
” he answered when Mrs. Brisbane called on him.
“Yes!” Mrs. Brisbane said. “We're going to be studying ancient Egypt.”
Then she added the words “ancient” and “Egypt” to the list on the board.
Most of my classmates looked excited, but I have to admit I still had no idea what Mrs. Brisbane meant.
“What other words can I write on the board to go along with these
” she asked.
“I know!” Be-Careful-Kelsey waved her hand. “Mummy!”
Mrs. Brisbane added the word to the board.
Now, I know what a mummy is. I know what a daddy is, too. But I still didn't know anything about ancient Egypt.
Tell-the-Truth-Thomas waved his hand high in the air and Mrs. Brisbane called on him.
“I read this book where a mummy came back to life and escaped from its tomb,” he said. “It was great!”
I felt a shiver and a quiver but some of my friends said “Ooh” and “Ahh!”
Thomas continued. “Then, I read a true book about the pyramids and that King Toot!”
All my classmates giggled.
“I mean King Tut!” Thomas looked very pleased with himself. “He was a pharaoh, which is like a king.”
“KingÂ .Â .Â . Tut
” I repeated. Because I know what a king isâsort ofâbut what's a tut
“Very good, Thomas,” Mrs. Brisbane said. “You know quite a bit about ancient Egypt already.”
But she didn't write King Tut on the board. Instead she wrote a string of nonsense letters:
“Tutankhamen was only a boy when he became a pharaoh. In the 1920s, his tomb was discovered and it was full of treasures,” Mrs. Brisbane explained.
“I'm surprised she could figure out how to say that word,” I squeaked to my neighbor. “Do you know what she's talking about
“BOING-BOING!” Og replied.
At least I wasn't the only one in the dark.
“To start our Egypt unit, we're going to the library now. Mr. Fitch will be showing us a film that shows some of the wonders of King Tut's tomb. It's called
Secrets of the Nile
She wrote “Nile” on the board.
I had no idea what that meant, either, but at least it was short and easy to spell.
My fellow students lined up to go to the library.
“Can Humphrey come, too
” Rolling-Rosie asked as she rolled her wheelchair past my cage.
“Thanks, Rosie!” I squeaked.
My hopes were dashed when Mrs. Brisbane said, “I think Humphrey would probably rather take a little nap.”
But I wasn't the least bit tired!
As they left the room, I heard Simon ask Thomas what the name of the mummy book was.
“I can't remember,” Thomas said. “I'll show it to you in the library.”
“Great, because I want to check it out,” Simon said.
“I want to learn those secrets of the Nile,” Rosie said as she rolled her wheelchair out the door.
“I want to see King Tut's treasure,” Holly said.
Before I knew it, Og and I were all alone in the room.
“Og, I want to know the secrets of the Nile, too, don't you
” I squeaked.
“BOING-BOING-BOING!” my friend replied.
“Whatever the Nile is,” I added.
I scurried over to the corner of my cage. There's a mirror there and behind it is a secret: my tiny notebook and pencil that Ms. Mac gave me.
I started to write down all of the weird words. I have to say, my paw was aching by the time I got to “hieroglyphics.” It was the longest, strangest word I'd ever seen.
I tucked my notebook back into its hiding place just seconds before my friends returned, full of energy.
“Hi, Humphrey,” Stop-Talking-Sophie said as she passed by my cage. “You should have seen what was in that pyramid. There was aâ”
She didn't finish because just then Slow-Down-Simon tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Don't tell Humphrey! They're supposed to be
“I guess he wouldn't understand anyway,” she said.
“Yes, I would!” I squeaked. “Please tell me! I'm in your class, too.”
Sophie smiled and said, “Sorry, Humphrey. I can't tell you.”
Then Tall-Paul staggered to his seat with his arms up and said, “I want my mummy!”
Everybody except OgÂ .Â .Â . and me.
I HOPED-HOPED-HOPED that Mrs. Brisbane would talk about those secrets after lunch, but she moved on to other subjects instead.
Just before the bell rang at the end of the day, she had Helpful-Holly hand out the homework sheets.
“Class, as you'll see on the instructions, you need to unscramble the words and label some of the items we learned about today,” she said.
“When is it due
” Do-It-Now-Daniel asked.
“Tomorrow, Daniel,” Mrs. Brisbane said. “You'll have to do it tonight.”
He liked to put things off as long as possible if he could.
It took only a few moments for the room to empty after the bell rang.
Mrs. Brisbane tided her desk, as usual.
“Can you tell us about the secrets of the Nile
” I squeaked.
“What's that, Humphrey
Are you interested in ancient Egypt
” she asked.
“YES-YES-YES!” I answered.
“As if you know what I'm saying,” she said with a chuckle. “Well, you'll find out what's going on soon enough.”
“But I'd like to know
!” I squeaked.
“BOING-BOING!” Og agreed.
“I might as well put the map up before I go,” she said.
She took a large, rolled-up paper from the closet and then tacked it to the bulletin board.
“There's ancient Egypt and there's the Nile.” She pointed at the map. “You two will have to wait to learn the rest.”
Just then, the door opened and Mr. Morales came in. He's the principal and the Most Important Person at Longfellow School.
“I'm glad you're still here, Sue,” he said.
Our teacher's first name is Sue, but I
call her Mrs. Brisbane.
“I have some bad news,” Mr. Morales said. “And I have some good news, as well.”
“What's the bad news
” Mrs. Brisbane asked.
“You're going to be losing one of your students in a few weeks,” he told her.
“Oh, no!” she replied. “Who
“NO-NO-NO!” I shouted as I scrambled up to the top of my cage for a better look. “WHO-WHO-WHO
To my surprise, Mr. Morales smiled. “This letter will explain. This is the good news,” he said as he handed Mrs. Brisbane a piece of paper.
She read it and smiled. “This is wonderful! I couldn't be happier,” she said.
Happy to be losing one of my classmates
I like every single one of my friends and I thought Mrs. Brisbane did, too.
“As you can see, we want to keep the whole thing secret. No one else should know until the big day,” he said.
“I agree,” she said. “I won't tell a soul. Oh, but can I tell Bert
Bert is Mr. Brisbane's first name.
“Yes, but only Bert,” he said.
Og splashed around in his tank.
“What about us
” I squeaked.
“What about Humphrey and Og
” Mrs. Brisbane asked Mr. Morales.
The principal looked our way and laughed. “No, not even Humphrey and Og.”
And I thought Mr. Morales liked us!
Soon, he was gone.
I crossed my toes and hoped Mrs. Brisbane would leave the letter on her desk so I could read it later that night. But as she was gathering up papers to take home, she put the piece of paper in her handbag.
“NO-NO-NO!!!” I squeaked at the top of my small lungs.
“BOING!!!!!” Og twanged as he splashed around in the water side of his tank.
I guess she didn't hear us, because she said good night and closed the door behind her.
When the parking lot was empty (I can see it from my window), I jiggled the lock-that-doesn't-lock on my cage and it opened. Thank goodness I have a secret way of getting out of my cage!