Sunday, April 10, 2011
I've found the novel I was looking for; I needed engaging fiction with short chapters for a read-aloud at the end of each class this spring. I needed it to center around the Civil War. And The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg is exactly what I was looking for, because our focus question will be "What is worth fighting for?" This book will help the kids think about that question.
Rodman Philbrick doesn't flinch from the complexities or nastiness of war and slavery, but he provides a central character who processes this world through a sardonic and compassionate POV. Figg is funny and though he is a liar and serial exaggerator, he is willing to fight and die for what he loves and believes in, much like the heroes of certain famous Mark Twain novels with which he has a lot in common.
Homer P. Figg and his brother are orphans who live with their wicked uncle in Maine. Homer's older brother Harold is sold into the Union army by their uncle, launching our hero on a quest to find him and bring him back before he is killed in battle. Homer's exciting and often amusing adventures eventually land him in the heat of action at Little Round Top in Gettysburg. Along the way he meets abolitionists, slave hunters, conductors on the Underground Railroad, spies, and scammers.