Thursday, August 6, 2009

Good Ol' Days

Robert McCloskey, who wrote Make Way For Ducklings and a few other famous picture books, also wrote a few chapter books, including Homer Price. It's a fun little story, with little self-sufficient Homer wandering about finding bank robbers or watching the adults do silly things like build a track neighborhood where everyone gets lost because all the houses look the same. The book is copyright 1943, but the world war is completely in the background -- some moms are knitting for the Red Cross in about the only explicit mention of the setting.

I did notice the old fashioned rules for race and gender. Females are apparently a different species, either a mom-type or a alien who plays by a different code. I noticed one black character with a speaking role, and his one sentence was in dialect, and the Indians described in the town's historical pageant would not win any sensitivity awards. It's strange how I notice these things now. But it's more an omission than a problem; I'm passing this book along to my fifth-grader to read; I think he'll enjoy Homer's autonomy as he runs the unstoppable doughnut machine or rescues a SuperHero from a ditch. My third grader might like it if I read the first chapter or so. B.

ETA: My fifth-grader read this too. His review: "It was good, it was great. Everyone should read it. My brother will like it. It was funny. [I asked him if there were any quibbles -- hard bits or anything.] The sheriff has a 'way with words.'" (Yes, he made the air quotes.)

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