22 January 2009
Ever on the look out for recommendations for boys, I picked this one up with high expectations: it's written by Rodman Philbrick and the cover illustration is by David Shannon. That's pedigree! And I must say, I was not disappointed. This is a funny, action-packed, winning book that will appeal to both boys and girls.
Homer P. Figg and his older brother Harold are orphans who are under the protection of their truly despicable uncle Squinton Leach, the meanest man in Maine. When Squint illegally sells an under aged Harold into the services of the Union Army, twelve year old Homer sets off to track him down and free him. With the sass and wits of Huck Finn, Homer lies his way in and out of mishaps and crosses paths with an array of Characters (emphasis on the capital 'C'.) Sometimes, not even the truth can keep Homer out of trouble. And as his adventures become more outlandish, it is sometimes difficult for new acquaintances to differentiate between fact and fiction. With the Civil War as the backdrop to the story, Homer's and Harold's fates come to a head on the fields of Gettysburg in a sequence that is as much high-flying adventure as it is a poignant observation of war.
Homer is an outstanding protagonist that readers can cheer for from start to finish. His voice is clear and distinct, right from the opening paragraph:
"My name is Homer P. Figg, and these are my true adventures. I mean to write them down, every one, including all the heroes and cowards, and the saints and the scalawags, and them stained with the blood of innocents, and them touched by glory, and them that was lifted into Heaven, and them that went to the Other Place."
Kids will love this book. They might not even recognize it as historical fiction, despite the fact that it unfolds during a pivotal time in this nation's history. Homer's cares and concerns, his focused intention of finding his brother, and his longing for his Dear Mother are sentiments that any reader can relate to, even without a Civil War.