Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Nov 22, 2013
I'm pretty sure it was the doughnuts on the cover that enticed him. That boy is nothing if not his father's child.
So we read it. And it was one of those books that had to be accompanied by a lot of explanations.
Homer lives in the small town of Centerburg. His father owns a tourist camp [insert explanation] and a filling station [insert explanation]. Homer helps out a lot, but he also likes to build radios [insert explanation]. Homer's Uncle Ulysses owns a diner and loves labor-saving gadgets [insert explanation], which is how the ill-fated doughnut machine comes to be. Besides catching robbers with his pet skunk and helping out the Super-Duper, Homer is fascinated with Michael Murphy's musical mouse trap and the cookie-cutter housing development going up [insert explanation]. For being such a small town, Centerburg is not the least bit short on excitement.
Even with all the things they didn't understand, Aaron and Maxwell still really liked this book (and I say, as long as they're enjoying it, it's not a bad thing to get to expand the ol' vocabulary). Unfortunately, the last chapter was definitely our least favorite, and combined with the long break we took in the middle of it to read Billy Miller, it just felt like it ended on a bit of a bad note. (I guess we just don't have much of an interest in a new housing development built in honor of old Uncle Ezekiel, nor in celebrating one hundred and fifty years of Centerburg progress. That chapter required so many explanations, I was doing more explaining than reading. Plus, there was just no way for it to compete with a chapter about dozens of doughnuts rolling non-stop down a chute.)
The illustrations are delightful. This is Robert McCloskey after all. Would you expect anything less? Since I can't seem to talk enough about the doughnut chapter, I'll also tell you that I would love to get prints of some of the pictures from that chapter and hang them in our future library someday. The piles and piles and piles of doughnuts are just too much for this doughnut-loving family to handle.
However, speaking of the illustrations, do you want to know what galled me the most about this book? In the first chapter, the one where Homer has a pet skunk named Aroma and uses her to catch a band of robbers, it repeatedly says that there are four robbers and every picture shows four of them. Every picture but one. In the picture of all of them in the same bed, there are unaccountably five robbers. Five! It makes no sense. I have gone back through the chapter in search of who the fifth person could possibly be, but it appears that Robert McCloskey simply made a mistake. How does this happen? He wrote the chapter! He illustrated all the other pictures correctly! What would make him add a fifth person in one picture? Maybe he did it on purpose to drive readers like me crazy.
With Henry Huggins, Billy Miller, and now Homer Price, I feel like we've been on a small-town, average-kid, simple-adventures kick. It's been wonderful. I love the example that all three of these fictional boys have been to my own boys. They are kind but curious, sensitive but rambunctious, obedient but creative. Expect to see many more similar books from us in the future.