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The Mostly True Adventures Of Homer P. Figg Paperback – January 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439668212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439668217
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Philbrick (Freak the Mighty) offers rip-roaring adventure in this Civil War–era novel featuring a mistreated orphan who doesn't let truth stand in the way of spinning a good yarn. When his guardian, Uncle Squinton—the meanest man in the entire state of Maine—sells off Homer P. Figg's older brother, Harold, to take a rich man's son's place in the Union army, Homer can't just stand around doing nothing. Determined to alert the authorities (and his brother) that Harold is too young to be a soldier, the plucky narrator traces the path of the regiment. He faces many dangers, including an abduction or two, and being robbed and thrown in with the pigs, and joining the Caravan of Miracles before landing smack in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg, where he reunites with his brother and more or less drives the Confederates away. The book wouldn't be nearly as much fun without Homer's tall tales, but there are serious moments, too, and the horror of war and injustice of slavery ring clearly above the din of playful exaggerations. Ages 9–12. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—When his older brother gets conscripted into the Union Army, Homer runs away from his uncle, "the meanest man in the entire state of Maine." He sets out after Harold but has multiple misadventures along the way. He survives thanks to courage, luck, and his talent for telling lies when needed, since "old Truth ain't nearly as useful as a fib sometimes." Homer relates his own adventures in colorful language as he crosses paths with con men, rogues, and scoundrels of various types. The comic tone is reflected in character names, such as Stink and Smelt, the cold-blooded slave catchers, and the kind but shifty Professor Fleabottom. Things take a more somber tone when Homer sees the horrors of the battlefield up close. The final reunion of the brothers during the Battle of Gettysburg is bittersweet. Homer's escapades introduce some interesting features of the year 1863, including the Underground Railroad, a traveling medicine show, Civil War spies, and an early version of the hydrogen balloon. Homer runs into plenty of danger, but there's more comedy than suspense in most episodes. He also deals with some moral dilemmas as he tries to make sense of the wide world and find people and ideas to believe in. The engaging protagonist and mixture of humor and adventure make this a strong choice for fans of Sid Fleischman's tales.—Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Rodman Philbrick grew up on the New England coast, where he worked as a longshoreman and boat builder. For many years he wrote mysteries and detective novels for adults. Inspired by the life of a boy who lived a few blocks away, he wrote 'Freak The Mighty', the award-winning young-adult novel, which has been translated into numerous languages and is now read in schools throughout the world. The book was adapted to the screen as 'The Mighty', starring Sharon Stone, Gillian Anderson, James Gandolfini, Kieran Culkin, and Elden Henson, with original music provided by Sting.

Rodman Philbrick's novels for young readers include 'The Fire Pony', 'Max the Mighty', 'REM World', 'The Last Book In The Universe', 'The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds', 'The Young Man And The Sea', and 'The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg', a 2010 Newbery Honor book.

The Private Eye Writers of America nominated two of his T.D.Stash series as best detective novel, and then selected Philbrick's 'Brothers & Sinners' as Best Novel in 1993. A gothic tale of slavery and sea captains, 'Coffins' was published in 2002. Writing under the pen name 'William R. Dantz' he has explored the near-future worlds of genetic engineering and hi-tech brain control in books like 'Hunger', 'Pulse', 'The Seventh Sleeper', and 'Nine Levels Down'. He has published three thrillers under the pen name Chris Jordan - 'Taken', Trapped', and 'Torn' - featuring Randall Shane, a former FBI Special Agent who specializes in recovering lost children. He's just now undertaken a new Chris Jordan series about the very private investigator Naomi Nash, set in Boston. The first volume, 'Measure of Darkness', will be published in December 2011 by Mira Books.

Rod and his wife Lynn Harnett, who have collaborated on a number of series for young readers, including 'The House on Cherry Street' and 'The Werewolf Chronicles', divide their time between Maine and the Florida Keys.

Customer Reviews

My 5th grader read this book for summer reading and loved it!!!
I think this is a great book and I recommend it to anyone who likes books about adventure, and the will to never give up.
The book was for sure entertaining and they couldn't wait to read again the next day.
KPS Teacher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By H. S. Wedekind VINE VOICE on February 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"I say my 'true' adventures because I told a fib to a writer once, who went and put it in the newspapers about me and my big brother, Harold, winning the battle of Gettysburg, and how we shot each other dead but lived to tell the tale. That's partly true, about winning the battle, but most ways it's a lie.

Telling the truth don't come easy to me, but I will try, even if old Truth ain't nearly as useful as a fib sometimes."
- Homer Pierce Figg (p.7)

The year is 1863 and the American Civil War is raging. This story is about the unbelievable adventures (and outlandish prevarications) of 12-year-old Homer P. Figg during June and July of that year. After suffering hunger and abuse inflicted on him and his brother by his nasty uncle Squinton Leach in Pine Swamp, Maine, who assumed guardianship and then mistreated both Homer and his older brother Harold following their mother's death, he runs away from the farm to look for, find, and rescue his big brother Harold...illegally "sold" to the U S Army by their mean uncle Squint. While following the trail of Harold, Homer meets up with an unusual array of people. Some are good, some are foolish, some are scalawags, and some are downright evil. Among the many interesting things that happen to him during his entertaining odyssey: Homer finds himself involved with runaway slaves and slave catchers, rides on a train to Portland and then sails to New York aboard a steamship for the very first time, is featured as an attraction while traveling with a Medicine Show, is accused of being a spy, has a close encounter with a hot air balloon, and witnesses the above mentioned battle of Gettysburg. These and other wild adventures await the reader of this humorous book. I highly recommend THE "MOSTLY" TRUE ADVENTURES OF HOMER P. FIGG to young adults and to "old folks" who, like myself, enjoy reading YA literature. I'd give it 6 stars if I could. Rodman Philbrick is a terrific storyteller.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ah, the inveterate child liar. The chronic juvenile dissembler. Is there any more classic character you can name? Whether it's The Artful Dodger, Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, The Great Brain or Soup from the Soup books, there is always room in the canon for just one more boy fibber (girl fibbers are not yet appearing the same numbers, I'm afraid). Now the best tellers of untrue tales often come from Southern soil. They are born below the Mason-Dixon line and are capable of great feats of derring-do, all the while escaping their own much complicated shenanigans. Credit Rodman Philbrick then with coming up with a fellow that's so far North that to go any farther he'd have to be Canadian. It's Homer P. Figg it is. Orphan. Storyteller. And the kid that's single-handedly going to win the Civil War, whether he intends to or not.

When you're stuck living with a scoundrel there's nothing for it but to make the best of things. And for years Homer P. Figg and his older brother Harold have made the best of living with their nasty ward and uncle Squinton Leach. A man so dastardly that he finds a way to sell Harold into serving as a soldier for the Union. The year is 1863 and when Harold ends up accidentally conscripted Homer is having none of it. Why his brother shouldn't legally be serving at all! Without further ado Homer takes his propensity for stretching the truth and Bob the horse so as to catch up with the army and get his bro back. Things, however, do not go smoothly. Before he finds Harold again Homer must endure blackguards, nitwits, shysters, pigs, a traveling circus, and an unexpected tour of the stratosphere.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By L. M. B. on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a good book for kids learning about the Civil War, specifically the Battle at Gettysburg. It is funny and touching at the beginning where a relationship between two orphan brothers is established. The younger brother goes on amazing adventures to save his older brother who has been enlisted into the Union army at 17. As I was reading I thought it was light and funny with some minor learning about history, The Underground Railroad, Quakers, Union vs. Confederate soldiers. At the end, all lightness is gone. The experiences of battle are graphic and scary. It might be too graphic for a child under 11 years old and yet too juvenile for a child ever 13. With that said, I am glad it does not glorify war. The sacrifice of lives for a small piece of land was clear.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Utah Mom VINE VOICE on July 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am pleased to introduce a guest blogger/reviewer today. Neal, my ten year old son, is willingly writing this review to earn a later bedtime (because I'm cruel like that).

My mom read The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick to us in the car while we were going on trips this summer. It is a book about a twelve-year-old boy trying to save his brother who was recruited to fight for the Union in the Civil War when he was underage. Homer has many adventures. At one point he's trapped in a pen of pigs and becomes part of a small traveling circus as the "Amazing Pig Boy". Homer likes Professor Fleabottom, who runs the circus, but he might not be who he says he is. He escapes in a silk reconnaissance balloon only to discover that he's landed on the wrong side of the war.

This is a very interesting and funny book. I learned a lot about the Civil War. Homer is a daring and brave kid. He and his brother are orphans so his brother is the only family he's got. He is very good about getting out of scary situations. He thinks quickly on his feet and he can sure tell a whopper. Homer is also very smart.

I recommend this book to anyone from 10 to 95 years old. Actually my five-year-old brother liked it too.
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