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Hits the Spot:The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

Well hello there!

This summer I read all fifteen of the Florida Sunshine State Books.  The Florida Sunshine State Books are a list of fifteen middle grade titles that were chosen by librarians and teachers throughout the state.  These books are selected for their wide appeal, literary value, varied genres, curriculum connections, and/or multicultural representation. I’m a huge fan of this list as it has introduced me to some of my favorite middle grades authors!

One of the books on this year’s list is The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P Figg (TMTAoHPF) by Rodman Philbrick.  The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P Figg by Rodman Philbrick

Master storyteller Rodman Philbrick takes readers on a colorful journey as young Homer Figg sets off to follow his brother into the thick of the Civil War. Through a series of fascinating events, Homer’s older brother has been illegally sold to the Union Army. It is up to Homer to find him and save him. Along the way, he encounters strange but real people of that era: two tricksters who steal his money, a snake-oil salesman, a hot-air balloonist, and finally, the Maine regiment who saved Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg and won the war for the Union.

Sometimes you’re just in the mood for a good middle grades novel and when you are, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg is a fun read. It kinda hits the spot!

Homer’s story starts in the Northern states during the U.S. Civil War and centers around his search for his older brother who has been sold into the Union Army as an underage solider. Homer is a lovable character who is observant and smart, if not a little silly at times. Homer is also adventurous and is willing to do anything, even if it means getting captured by the Confederate Army, to locate and save his beloved brother.

All in all TMTAoHPF manages to tell a fun adventure story in the midst of a deadly Civil War. Philbrick mixes humor and seriousness in such a way that you don’t feel like he’s making light of the situation, but he isn’t breaking your heart either. The perfect mix for middle grades fiction, I believe! Perfect for older elementary aged students and up.

Regarding use in the middle school social studies classroom, I do think that TMTAoHPFis best suited for younger middle school students and even older elementary aged students. That being said, in Florida the Civil War is studied in 8th grade American History, and I don’t know if my 8th graders would enjoy this book as much as the 6th or 7th graders would.  I could be totally wrong, but the 8th graders at my school have edgier reading tastes. Now, don’t think” my 8th grader wouldn’t like it then”,  because they might and mine might too! :)  However, if the Civil War is taught in different grade level or you think your students would enjoy it then I highly recommend it for use in the classroom!

Author: Rodman Philbrick 

Publisher: The Blue Sky Press (Janurary 1, 2009)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 224 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: The Mostly True Adventures Of Homer P. Figg

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Perseverance and Hope: A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Hello there!

I’m trucking away at reading all fifteen Florida Sunshine State books and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is the ninth I’ve A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Parkfinished.

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

Having friends who recently moved to southern Sudan I was intrigued when I saw that this story of Civil War in Sudan made the Sunshine State list this year. I’m going to have to send this book to her because it was a really beautiful read.

Linda Sue Park tells the true story of Salva, a “lost boy”, interwoven with a story of a young girl, Nya in such a way that the reader can’t help but be moved. There is so much sadness and hardship in this book but in Salva and Nya’s stories are also full of perseverance and hope. A Long Walk to Water can be a difficult read at times, as it does detail the horrors and difficulties of war and death, but Parks does not linger on these scenes and her careful timing and inclusion of them makes them that much more powerful.

I would definitely recommend A Long Walk to Water to middle school aged readers to adults. Also, I believe this quick read could be an incredibly helpful book in the classroom to bring more contemporary examples of civil war to students.

Author: Linda Sue Park

Publisher: Clarion Books (November 15, 2010)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 128 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story

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Book Trailer of the Week: The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

Book Trailer of the WeekHappy Friday everyone!

I think book trailers are awesome ways to promote books, so every week I showcase a different book trailer.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman PhilbrickRecently I posted on the new Florida Sunshine State list for Grades 6-8. As a Media Specialist my job is to read all fifteen books so I can promote each title at my school.  Today’s trailer is for The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick, a historical fiction middle grades title.

Young Homer Figg sets off to follow his brother into the thick of the Civil War. Through a series of fascinating events, Homer’s older brother has been illegally sold to the Union Army. It is up to Homer to find him and save him. Along the way, he encounters strange but real people of that era: two tricksters who steal his money, a snake-oil salesman, a hot-air balloonist, and finally, the Maine regiment who saved Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg and won the war for the Union.

I’ll be honest, this doesn’t sound like my usual type of book, but I do find that I’m often pleasantly surprised by the Sunshine State books each year, so I’m completely open.  Anyway, lets check out the trailer!