Thanks to Jen and Kellee for inspiring me to read and write about the books every week. I love visiting teachmentortexts.com for more book recommendations each week!
I read The (Almost) True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodney Philbrick over the weekend. I don’t generally expect humor in historical fiction that has to do with the Civil War, and there were times when I had to second-guess myself when I was laughing at a young boy's mishaps. However, I loved Homer and I think that he would have wanted me to be chuckling! I loved his honesty, his determination, his lies (there are several), and his sense of humor. I am looking forward to some of my daughters and students reading this so that we can debate what really could and could not have happened in Homer’s narrative. (I would argue that all of it was within the possibilities of reality!)
This book offers some great possibilities for learning and discussions. Homer’s adventures begin in Maine and Philbrick wove in some Underground Railroad history with a conductor who was a wealthy Quaker. History lessons continue with enlistment, Hydrogen balloons, traveling circuses, and fighting conditions and they culminate with the Battle of Gettysburg. Some of the scenes are predictably violent since Philbrick rightfully presents the brutality of the Civil War. Homer faces ethical dilemmas and decisions throughout the book, paving the way for right vs. right conversations with children—some of my favorite conversations. Homer is also an amazing model of perseverance, resilience, and commitment for readers.
As a mentor text, The (Almost) True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, would be a wonderful choice for teaching voice and humor because Homer is subtle and wonderfully funny. Vignettes throughout the book could mentor story-tellers, as well as Philbrick's development of strong characters in many different settings. Homer is definitely a character worth knowing!