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Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 01/01/2009 Gr 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 2009 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 01/01/2009 After his older brother Harold is forced to join the Union Army, Homer runs away from their wicked uncle’s farm to save him. His southward journey divides easily into episodic adventures: outwitting two slave-hunting scoundrels with the help of a wealthy abolitionist; traveling south with an easily duped young clergyman; joining a medicine show led by a mysterious man; fleeing in a hot-air balloon with a disastrous flaw; and arriving at Gettysburg in time for the battle. If these adventures seem a little too colorful to be quite believable, first-person narrator Homer begins his tale by saying, the truth don’t come easy to me. The narrator’s humor and folksy charm bubbles to the surface from time to time, despite a streak of cruelty that runs straight through the story, from the farm to the battlefield. Notes on the period and a glossary are appended. This eventful, episodic novel is accessible to a younger audience than many others set during the Civil War. - Copyright 2009 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2009 After nasty Uncle Squinton Leach arranges for his underage nephew Harold to be enlisted in the Union army, Harold’s younger brother, Homer, learns that the transaction was blatantly illegal, and he sets out to find his sibling and force his release from military service. Before Homer ever claps eyes on his big brother again, though, the kid romps through a series of one-dang-thing-after-another adventures that range from assisting at an Underground Railroad “station,” getting abandoned by a lovestruck minister charged with escorting him to New York, performing as a “pig boy” in a medicine show, flying off in a reconnaissance balloon, and being arrested as a spy. When he meets back up with Harold-who turns out to be quite content with soldiering, thank you-Homer dives right into the thick of battle at Gettysburg and inadvertently delivers Harold the wound that will get him discharged. While there isn’t much depth to the narrative trajectory, it’s the book’s very episodic style, coupled with short chapters, breakneck pacing, and Homer’s hyperbolic and funny narration, that’s likely to charm even reluctant readers into sticking around for all two hundred pages. A glossary of Civil War terms is included. EB - Copyright 2009 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.