The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg (Scholastic Gold)

by Rodman Philbrick

Paperback, 2011



Call number

PB Phi

Call number

PB Phi

Local notes

PB Phi




Scholastic Paperbacks (2011), Edition: Reprint, 240 pages


Twelve-year-old Homer, a poor but clever orphan, has extraordinary adventures after running away from his evil uncle to rescue his brother, who has been sold into service in the Civil War.


Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — Middle Grade — 2013)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 2012)
Georgia Children's Book Award (Finalist — 2012)
Great Stone Face Book Award (Nominee — 2010)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2010)
Lupine Award (Winner — Juvenile/Young Adult — 2008)
William Allen White Children's Book Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2011-2012)
Newbery Medal (Honor Book — 2010)
Nutmeg Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 2013)
Sunshine State Young Reader's Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2013)
Grand Canyon Reader Award (Nominee — 2012)
Mitten Award (Winner — 2009-2010)
NCSLMA Battle of the Books (Elementary — 2020)
South Carolina Book Awards (Nominee — Children's Book Award — 2012)
The Best Children's Books of the Year (Nine to Twelve — 2010)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

240 p.; 5.5 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member mayaspector
There are two things you need to know about Homer Figg: he’s an orphan, whose closest relationship is with his big brother Harold, and he’s a huge liar. When their mean and stingy guardian, Squinton Leach, sells Harold off illegally to the Union army, Homer runs away from Pine Swamp, Maine to
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find him and save him from the war.

This book is full of humor, adventure, wild stories, and a bunch of unforgettable characters. Homer may tell elaborate fibs to everyone he meets, but he somehow manages to make his way through.
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LibraryThing member edh92
Most people tell a couple fibs in their life, Homer P. Figg was one of these people. Homer's fibs just occurred more often than most peoples. Figg is an orphan living in the Civil War era. The story is centered around Homer's adventures after he finds out that his uncle sold his brother into the
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Union Army. This is a story of Homer trying to conquer a war much deeper than between two parts of the country.
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LibraryThing member susanmartling
A rousing historical fiction adventure with the very likable main character, Homer. This book is an excellent complement to studying the Civil War. Its vocabulary and colloquialisms make it appropriate for upper elementary grades (gr 4 and up). It is especially of interest since the 12 yr old
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protagonist is from Maine. A fast paced tale of adventure that realistically conveys injustice and triumph. It includes some graphic descriptions of the Battle of Gettysburg.
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
Homer P. Figg never met a lie he didn't like to tell to save his skin or spice up his stories. It is that gift that helps him survive the harrowing adventure to find his brother after he has been taking to join the Union army under false pretenses. A fun ride, Homer meets a colorful cast of
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characters. Snipets of civil war era history - particularly the underground railroad and the battle of Gettysburg - are woven into the story.
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LibraryThing member didaly
An entertaining and educational account of a boy who's not afraid to tell tales and travel many miles to fight the injustice of his Uncle and get his brother back, with glimpses of the institution of slavery, the underground railroad, and the horrors of the battlefield. Written in Homer's charming
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LibraryThing member tararamos
This book is about two brothers during the Civil War. The oldest ends up being wrongfully sold into the army. The youngest Homer sets out to find him. This book describes all the adventures he has along the way.

This is a great book, I really enjoyed it. It talked about the underground railroad. It
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also talks about the traveling shows that would try and sell elixir. This is a great book for the Civil War time frame.

I would use this book with a Civil War unit. Also a great book for boys. You could also use it in a book circle.
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LibraryThing member KHusser
A backwoods historical fiction story centered on Maine orphan, Homer Figg, and his attempts to save his brother, Harold, who was sold into the Union Army by their villainous Uncle, Squint. Many adventures await Homer, and his skill at lying and stretching the truth. His travels lead him to the
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Battle of Gettysburg, learning of the Underground Railroad, traveling medicine shows, and other 19th Century occurrences, kids today know little about. Humorous and fun, with lots of dialogue, and “backwoods talk,” that gives a realistic depiction of the Civil War era, politics, and social practices
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LibraryThing member oapostrophe
Homer Figg can tell a fine tall tale which can get him both in and out of trouble. His cruel uncle Squinton Leach (what a great name!) sells his older brother Harold into the army even though Harold is only 17. So 12 year-old Homer sets off to save his brother. He encounters slave hunters,
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Underground Railroad travelers, a wealthy Quaker who wants to help him, a preacher taken in by grifters and many other memorable characters as he stumbles doggedly on his quest. Full of the excitement and difficulty of the times, it's a terrific read. Yea Rodman.
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LibraryThing member celiebug
I truely liked the book. I liked that it stayed on key and never got to in depth for me to read. Alot of books get to in depth for me. I believe the book could be used to show what an historical fiction is. Another way to introduce the book would be to show his bravery during this time period and
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how your students can relate to being brave.
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LibraryThing member angietangerine17
Well, another of those books about war. Not a big fan but it is really a good book for a look at a child's point of view of war and loss of family. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend this book for young readers for just that reason.
LibraryThing member mcmunn07
I really enjoyed reading this book because I love history and this book was set during the Civil War. I gave this book four stars because it was a little hard to get used to reading. The author did not spell the words properly. He spelled the words how the people said them. Once I got used to this,
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I really enjoyed it and it became an easy read. This would be a great book to use while studying the Civil War. It introduces things from the Civil War someone might not know. For instance, I did not know the armies used hot air balloons to spy on each other until I read this book. This would also be a good book to use in literature circles.
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LibraryThing member erinbreland
The mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg is one of my favorite books and I honestly did not think that I was going to it. Homer p. Figg is a young boy who is left under the guardianship of his crazy drunk uncle after both of his parents pass. Homer and his brother Harold take care of each other
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because their uncle sure doesn't. Their uncle, Uncle Squint, is a drunk who sales Harold into the war although he is under age. When Squint does this it is the last straw for Homer and he tries to hit and kill their uncle and without Harold their to save him Squint is going to kill him and so there begins the mostly true adventures. Homer sets off and runs into bandits in the woods who threaten his life and he has to go up to Mr. Brewsters house to try and find out where the slaves are that he is trying to help. Homer ends up spending the night and getting a fabulous meal. The bandits have also captured a big black man whose name is Samuel Reed. When Homer reports back to the bandits he lies and they aim to kill him but Samuel breaks free and he and Homer both escape. Mr. Brewster has a lot of runaway slaves hiding in his basement and Mr. Reed and the slaves leave Mr. Brewster's to go on to the next place part of the under ground railroad. Then Homer is taken by Reverend Willow to continue to look for Harold and buy him back out of the army. But little does Homer know Reverend Willow has his own agenda and falls in love with a beautiful con artist who takes all Homer's money to buy Harold back. Homer then meets Mini and Professor Fleabottom his luck begins to change because they promise to help him find Harold if he will be their pig boy. Eventually Homer finds Harold and of course they defeat the confederates, just Harold and Homer. Or at least that's what Homer said. In the end Homer and Harold are adopted legally by Mr. Brewster and they don't have to live with old mean uncle Squint anymore. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg is a great book to read especially 4th grade and up. This book and Elijah of Buxton would be great books to read together because they are both historical fiction and they show both sides of the time period. The point of view from a poor white boy and the point of view from a poor black boy, but it still shows all of the hard and good times they both faced despite their age. I think that these books can not only broaden the minds of children but also make them be thankful for what they have and the way things are today.
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LibraryThing member Nbrowne
Homer and his brother Harold are now livng with their mean uncle. The suprisingly mean uncle thinks that the pigs should eat more food then the boys! So the boys steal the pig food but their uncle got so mad he sent Harold to war ( bad Idea ).Homer is going to save his brother and bring him back
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home.( or escape from their uncle. Whats going to happen!?
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LibraryThing member JordySizemordy
The Mostly True Adventures follow a young boy during the time of the Civil War. Homer and his brother Harold are sent off to life with their old, awful, drunk Uncle Squint. After a huge fight, Harold is sold into the war by his uncle and Homer sets off to find him. After a confrontation with
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some bandits, Homer finds himself along side a slave name Samuel as they travel the Underground Railroad. Homer successfully finds his brother Harold, and they fight off the Confederates. They are then both adopted by the man helping free the slaves.

Personal Reaction
I do not usually fall for books of this kind, but the adventure and history drew me in. I love that the bond between brothers lasts throughout the story, and I love that they get their happy ending. I also think about the other young boys and girls during this era, however, and how they must have constantly been using extremely vivid imaginations just to get through the turmoil of each day.

Extension Ideas
1) Introduce a unit on the Civil War. After a few days of sharing facts and information, have each student pick a subject to free write about. Give suggestions such as the Underground Railroad, Slavery, War, Brotherhood, etc.
2)There were a lot of things changing during the time right before, during, and after the Civil War including the appearance of the American Flag. Ask each student to draw what they believe the American Flag could look like in the next ten years, and then explain the changes to its design.
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LibraryThing member shelf-employed
This book is a winner. Set in the 1860s, Homer P. Figg and his brother Harold have a miserable existence in the care of the “meanest man in Maine,” Squinton Leach,

“A man so mean he squeezed the good out of the Holy Bible and beat us with it, and swore that God Himself had inflicted me and
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Harold on him, like he was Job and we was Boils and Pestilence.”

When Squinton Leach illegally sells Harold into service in the Union Army as a replacement, Homer P. Figg sets off to find him. This sounds like the set-up for a sorrow-filled tale of the Civil War. But, add in the fact that Homer P. Figg is as keen a liar and observer of human nature as was ever created by the likes of Mark Twain, you’ve got yourself a tale that, although full of lies, lies more likely near the truth. Homer Figg shows us comedy in times of tragedy and dogged perseverance against adversity.

On his quest to free his brother from his illegal conscription, Homer meets an array of colorful characters and shares his wry observations,

as in this passage when he is travelling with an aspiring pastor,

“Dear Kate has been waiting for me all her life. She knew it the moment she looked into my eyes.” Homer wryly notes, “That does it. It can’t be true love. Mr. Willow has eyes like a sick kitten. You might love a sick kitten buy you don’t marry it, you keep it as a pet.”

Later, Homer is directed to bathe by Professor Fleabottom, his new employer and proprietor of Professor Fleabottom’s Caravan of Miracles,

“The pungent perfume of the pig is still upon you. The suffocating scent of the swine exudes from your person. In a word sir, you stink.” To which Homer declares, “Far as I’m concerned, taking a bath is sort of like drowning, with soap. Never could abide it…”

Homer’s spunk, his determination, and his ability to find joy in life during the direst of circumstances, makes him a winning hero. Yes, there is war and death and dishonesty; but there is also hope.
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LibraryThing member KarenBall
"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 at Gettysburg, and how we shot each other dead but lived to tell the tale. That's partly true, about winning the battle, but mostways it's
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a lie."Homer and his brother Harold are orphans living with the meanest man in Pine Swamp, Maine: their uncle, Squinton Leach. Although Harold is only 17, Leach sells him to be a replacement in the Union Army (someone who takes the place of another, usually a rich man's son). Homer runs away to try to catch up with Harold and the army, prove he is underage and free him. His trip southward to Pennsylvania is one adventure-filled disaster after another: from escaped slaves and the underground railroad, to a traveling show, to stealing a hot-air balloon and riding it into the Battle at Gettysburg. This will make you laugh, especially the wild lies that just seem to come flying out of Homer whenever he opens his mouth, but the historical details are accurate and interesting also! Good historical fiction for 6th grade and up.
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LibraryThing member gbowen
Great characters and great story.
LibraryThing member prkcs
Twelve-year-old Homer, a poor but clever orphan, has extraordinary adventures after running away from his evil uncle to rescue his brother, who has been sold into service in the Civil War.
LibraryThing member skstiles612
Homer P. Figg is a story teller, as in fibs. The way he embellishes a story made me think of Tom Sawyer. His story takes place during the Civil War. He and his brother Harold live with their uncle because their mother is dead. He works them hard and feeds them little. Then the worst thing happens.
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He sells Harold to serve in the Union Army in the place of a rich mans son. Homer runs away determined to find and rescue his brother. Along the way he has several adventures. He ends up with a group who have decided to use his story telling abilities to uncover an underground railroad station. Homer is smart enough to use the stories to thwart their plans. For all of the humor found in the story it is tempered with the horrors he witnesses of the war. This was a good book that will have a place on my shelves. A good way to teach students some historical facts.
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LibraryThing member Rosa.Mill
Homer and his brother live with their horrible uncle in his barn where he barely feeds them, until their uncle sells Harold into the Union Army in place of someone else. Homer overhears the plan to illegally get rid of Harold after he is marched off and goes an an adventure to get Harold out of the
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army. Along the way he encounters the Underground Railroad, a Medicine Show, is captured by the Rebel Army and participates in Gettysburg.

Homer is a pretty funny kid who pushes the bounds of the reliable narrator. He lies his butt off pretty much constantly and I found myself wondering how many exaggerations were left in his tale. There was clearly a lot of research done into the Civil War Draft policy, medicine shows etc. The historical notes at the end were very interesting and extended beyond the the scope of the book which I thought was neat. I wish there were more Homer P. Figg adventures b/c he seems like a character you could really get a lot of mileage out of.
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LibraryThing member jsa110
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg is a historical book that can be used in a history setting. It is based on a twelve year old and his life. Any twelve year old would probably interested in reading this book. He is set off to find his brother that had been sold in to the Union Army. This
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could be a great book to be able to show brotherly love or sibling love. It also teaches all different things in history like: Thieves, scallywags, and spies. He follows clues so this book is really good to read if you like to read about adventures.
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LibraryThing member KatherineC032
The book’s style is reminiscent The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Rodman Philbrick created a very endearing character in Homer Figg. He is determined, witty and simply hilarious. The adventures were an effective way of integrating history into this book. This is a very engaging book for young
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readers, a fast read, and very enjoyable.
Memorable quote: “It all boils down to this: A person has only two options in life, to do something or to do nothing.”
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LibraryThing member scote23
Newbery Honor Book 2010, Maine Student Book Award Nominee 2010-2011

This book snuck up on me. I wasn't quite sure what to think of it at the beginning, but by the last audiodisc I was concerned about what would happen to Homer Figg. A good quick read with action, adventure and a little bit of gore.
LibraryThing member paakre
Homer and his brother Harold are orphans, left in the care of their wicked uncle Squint who sells Harold (aged seventeen) for a replacement in the Civil War. The year is 1863, and the Emancipation has just been enacted. Homer strikes off to find Harold and runs into some more villains with great
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names like Stink and Smelt who want him to spy on the Quaker man whose home is a stop on the Underground Railroad. Homer has an amazing ability to tell tall tales which makes him valuable to a Medicine Show which hires him to act the part of the "pig boy." In this book, you learn about the Civil War and its bloody battle at Gettysburg as Homer makes his way south from the northern tip of Maine to Pennsylvania where he is told his brother is bound.

The book has humor, pathos, and a fair share of realistic description of what the bloodiest battle of the Civil War might have been like.
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LibraryThing member librarian1204
Very well written. Funny but with very serious issues presented. I really liked the glossary of Civil War slang.




½ (174 ratings; 3.8)
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