2015's Buckeye Children's Book Award winner for grades 3-5 was Secrets According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney. I have read the first few Humphrey books, but this one was new to me.
Humphrey is the class hamster for room 26 at an elementary school. Humphrey feels it is his job to help the students in room 26, and while they can't understand Humphrey, he can understand them all perfectly. He gives the kids nicknames, like Small-Paul (because there are two Pauls, and one is shorter) and Tell-the-Truth-Thomas, and he keeps a tiny notebook to write down information in.
He has to use his notebook big time in this story, because secrets abound as the kids learn about ancient Egypt and Humphrey overhears that a student will be leaving, but he doesn't learn who. Not only that, but Aldo the custodian is keeping a secret as well.
Humphrey manages to sneak out to the library to discover the secrets of ancient Egypt, but it's much harder to figure out who is leaving and what secret Aldo is keeping. Humphrey spends time imagining each child gone from the class, and how sad he'll be with them gone. At the same time, a few students in class have started secret clubs and exclude other students. Humphrey gets a first hand look at how unpleasant that feels, and starts to think that secrets aren't good at all. But once he hears Aldo's secret and discovers the circumstances behind the student who is moving, he realizes that secrets can be good, too.
I enjoyed the small bit about coming up with your own language using hieroglyphics. I bet that would appeal to a lot of kids. I also love Humphrey's tips at the end for secrets -- including when it's okay to keep a secret, and when it's not.
Many of my students adore Humphrey, and this book is just another great addition to the series. Dealing with the topic of secrets is very engaging for kids, but also full of good lessons. I can see why kids in Ohio picked this book to be the winner!
We're almost at the end, Jill -- until the fall, anyway! Are you looking forward to reviewing the latest winner of the Buckeye Children's Book Award?
Please join us in our reading challenge! We welcome anyone at any time! :)
For more information, please see this post.