Mock Newbery 2023 discussion

Book of the Month- 2010 > July Read - The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

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message 1: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 585 comments Mod
What did you think?

message 2: by Jessica (last edited Jul 08, 2009 09:03AM) (new)

Jessica (loveyourlibrary) | 7 comments I really enjoyed this book and plan on recommending it all around. I thought the balance of humor and sadness was great, but I know others who disagree with that. One problem I see with the book is there are too many characters Homer meets along the way. Because there are so many they don't become very well developed, though I think for the time readers spend with them they do start to become rounded. I did listen to this book which sometimes makes me love a book more than I would if I had just read it, so maybe that is part of my love for this book.

message 3: by Emily (new)

Emily | 4 comments I thought it was a good book, but not a great book. I also listened to it and could definitely see a family listening to it in the car on a long trip or a teacher using it in class during a Civil War unit. I thought the balance between humor and sadness was a little off, but that could be my own personal taste getting in the way. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book-- I just don't think it's Newbery material...

message 4: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (kathleena) | 34 comments I'm half way finished with this book. So far I like it, but I agree with Jessica that there are so many characters that most are undeveloped. I do enjoy the humor and I like voice of the main character. I'd like to read this to my fifth grade boys' class this year to get their take on it. I don't think this is Newbery worthy at this point.

message 5: by Melsmith (new)

Melsmith | 13 comments I thought the book was good, but I agree with the comments about the undeveloped characters. To me it was a kid lite version of Forest Gump. I also thought the cover helped the book, because I saw it's strength in it's humor and am not sure it holds up as solid historical fiction despite it's setting.

I will be buying it for my collection and will include it on my Mock Newbery clubs short list, but I would be surprised if it won the Newbery.

message 6: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (hilarylombardo) | 26 comments To me, this book is a yarn - and it reads like one. If the characters were too developed, it'd lose that quality. Think of how much different the story of Holes would be if we knew the innermost thoughts and feelings of Warden Walker, thereby making her a more well rounded and sympathetic character. My point being - sometimes less developed two dimensional characters are what give the story the quality it is striving for. As I read "The Mostly True Adventures", I kept feeling like i was living in Civil War America and that I met this boy who has an extraordinary story to tell, even if half of it was over exaggerated and ludicrous. It's a tall tale, much like the folklore that came out of America at that time.

Sooo... I feel the book has Newbery quality because it meets several of the standards put forth by the Newbery committee:
1. Development of Plot - I think we can all agree that the plot is fun and exciting.
2. Dilineation of Characters - Homer (our yarn spinner) is well developed and compelling.
3. Dilineation of Setting - The Civil War era setting was spot on, portrayed through Homer's vernacular, the people he meets, and textual descriptions.
4. Appropriateness of Style - again, Homer's vernacular, and the tall tale quality of the story.

I ramble on and on... I just really love this book!

message 7: by Patty (new)

Patty (loonfern) | 11 comments I agree with your comments. I loved the book because of
of these qualities. I think it is a must read for the season.

message 8: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 585 comments Mod
I really like the Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg. I like the adventure, and period of the story. The story has so much to teach children about life during the civil war, even the circus and the oddities presented. I marvel at the obvious lack of truthfulness that kids love so much.

My complaint about this one is the pace toward the end. Characters were more developed in the first half of the story. The ending just felt hurried. I don't know what the Newbery commitee will think of this one. It will be interesting.

message 9: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (kathleena) | 34 comments I finished it the other day and I agree with you, Kristen, that the end felt hurried. I am always amazed in stories like these at all the charlatans. They're still out there today too, I guess. I still don't think it is Newbery worthy--maybe an honor book, but I'm not sure.

message 10: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 585 comments Mod
Kathleen wrote: "I finished it the other day and I agree with you, Kristen, that the end felt hurried. I am always amazed in stories like these at all the charlatans. They're still out there today too, I guess. ..."

I agree with you that boys will like it. John Sciezka claims that more women then men write and because of that most books are geared toward girls. I think this book will work for both.

message 11: by LauraW (new)

LauraW (lauralynnwalsh) | 108 comments I enjoyed Homer's story. Years ago, I had a computer program that simulated the battle of Gettysburg, where you could play as either the North or the South. I think pairing this book with the simulation or a non-fiction book about Gettysburg would make a great addition to a Civil War/War between the States unit.

I am still getting a feel for what "Newbery quality" means.

message 12: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 585 comments Mod
I read The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had. I really liked the story, but I wonder if it is very realistic to that time period. Did anyone else read it?

message 13: by LauraW (new)

LauraW (lauralynnwalsh) | 108 comments Kristen wrote: "I read The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had. I really liked the story, but I wonder if it is very realistic to that time period. Did anyone else read it?


I just read it this week. I enjoyed the story, but didn't think about the realism to that time period. Since it was placed in 1917, that would be about the time when my mother was growing up - or just before. What aspect of it did you think was unrealistic?

message 14: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 585 comments Mod
The jail part made me wonder a bit. I love the story, I just wondered if it would really work. (I'm worried about giving too much away) It's a charming book, did you think it was a contender for the Newbery? Did you like it better then Homer P Figg?

message 15: by LauraW (new)

LauraW (lauralynnwalsh) | 108 comments I thought the jail part was stretching it a bit, but there are a lot of books that do that. Mrs. Pooley's change of heart was harder to take, as there wasn't a lot of preparation for it.

I enjoyed both books. Interestingly, though I live in Alaska, I read both books while I was on a trip to Alabama and it made me think more about how my great nieces would view the North vs. South aspects of the books. I had planned to give the books to them after I finished reading them. I think they are discrete enough to be accurate, but not damning with regard to race relations and slavery.

I am a "read the ending first" person (I know, I know, but it is the only way I can get myself through some of the tenser parts of a story). I had to skip to the ending of Best Bad Luck a lot, but not as much for Homer P. Figg. That says, to me, the BBL is a bit better at creating story tension, as both involve serious elements.

I would agree with Hilary about the characters in HPF. It reads as a yarn and that makes the "Mostly True" aspects foremost and character development, with the possible exception of Homer himself, secondary.

I also read Calpurnia Tate on the trip. What a good threesome!

message 16: by Katie (last edited Jul 27, 2009 10:59AM) (new)

Katie | 11 comments I listened to the audiobook of Homer P. Figg, and although I didn't personally care for the narrator's voice, I thought that he did a good job distinguishing the various characters and adding emotion to the story.

For the most part, I enjoyed this one more than I expected (I am not particularly interested in the Civil War), but I felt like there were some pretty major tone shifts in a few places that kind of ruined the book for me. Going from the kind of crazy, tall tale narration to a really serious and emotional dialouge on slavery or the tragedies of the battlefield felt very uneven and took me out of the story. Maybe it was more pronounced in the audio, but I would have liked there to be more consistency in the tone.

That said, I do think this is a fun adventure with a lot of appeal, and the author did a great job with the historical setting. Is it worthy of a Newbery? Maybe not, but I have yet to pick up a historical fiction title this year that has been as engaging and discuss-able!

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