by Robert McCloskey
Homer Price is supposed to be one of our more modern “classics.” We began with great interest, but I must admit I was a little disappointed in this book—possibly because I love some of the author/illustrator’s children’s books, such as Make Way for Ducklings, and possibly because I have fond memories of books from this era—probably faulty memory which may be a little rose-coloured. This is the not the first mid-century book we have read aloud: Mr. Popper’s Penguins and The Moppets also depict family life in small-town America.
To me, what many of these books lack is any meat. If the author’s attention is solely to amuse kids, the book is probably a success on that level as “Homer Price” includes six unlikely adventures of Homer. My kids thought some parts were quite funny and enjoyed the book over-all ( but as an adult I found other authors better able to draw in older listeners as well. For example, Gordon Kormon’s middle-school books can still produce real amusement in some adults–although this is not a blanket recommendation for all his books). I have to keep in mind, though, that I am an adult reading primarily to girls. And perhaps this book just isn’t meant as a read-aloud.
In its defense, Homer could be a big hit among boys! After all, he does use a skunk to lead a band of robbers captive…But if you are looking for mid-century quick chapter books for girls, maybe the All-of-a-Kind Family, and Betsy-Tacy series or some of the Jean Little books would be a better pick. The Great Brain series also comes to mind as a mid-century series for boys, but I would have to do a reread of them in order to make a recommendation.
A caution regarding all of the books mentioned above, is the occasional use of language such as “my goodness/for goodness’ sake,” “gosh,” etc, that may or may not be welcome in your home. One solution is to buy your own copy to edit or cross out as you read aloud.
Recommended as a light read, geared to boys