Philbrick, R. (2009). The mostly true adventures of Homer P. Figg. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. 217pp. Grade Level: 3-5).
This is the story of a boy who embarks on an adventure to find his older brother and bring him back home. His older brother was tricked into signing up for the Civil War, and is really too young to be a soldier, and Homer has to tell his brother this before its too late and Harold gets himself killed.
This book details Homer's adventures in finding his brother, though right off the bat we are warned that Homer has a tendency to lie and exaggerate. We see this plainly throughout, and how usually his lies help him, though only for a little while. Eventually the truth is found out or guessed, and he is in more or equal trouble than he would have been without the tall tales. This would be important for third through fifth graders to grasp, so they go about believing lies are a-okay.
In the end, when Homer finds Harold (sorry to spoil that if you didn't know already or hand't figured it out), I felt let down. From what Homer had told us about his brother, I was expecting someone much different. In fact, I was sure that if I were to have a big brother, I'd want someone just like Harold. Philbrick must have realized, or horror of horrors planned it, and tries to rectify our opinion of him. But I'm not easily 'suaded.
This says a lot about our heroes, and how they aren't as perfect as we paint them, and how we have to be careful. If our pedestal is too high, thats an awfully long fall for the person standing on it.
It says a lot about Homer that even what he learns about his brother doesn't really change the young boys view about him. Homer continues chasing after Harold, and isn't devastated with the new, bitter information. He took it a lot better than I would have.
The actual ending of the book seems a bit unrealistic, almost too perfect. But I suppose a sad or even bittersweet ending might be too much for the intended 6-9 year old audience. But it was still, overall, very good, and kept me smiling.
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