It’s the 1860’s and Homer and his older brother Harold are orphans stuck with their mean guardian Squint, who neglects them by locking them in the barn and denying them proper nourishment. Then the old coot goes and illegally sells an underage Harold into the Union army. It’s up to 12-year-old Homer to find Harold and rescue him from the war. On his journey many an adventure, some good, and some bad delay Homer. Here’s an excerpt where he finds respite at the home of wealthy abolitionist Jebediah Brewster, and he reflects on his good fortune.
Part of me really wants to do it. Wants to forget about my brother and live in the lap of luxury, and get fat on pancakes and apple pie and pork cutlets and pan-fried chicken and ginger cookies with sugar on top. Maybe go back to Pine Swamp one day, riding in a fine carriage and dressed like a gentleman. Show old Squint what became of that ragged boy he kept in the barn like an animal. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t forget my brother Harold, marching to war on his bare feet, without even a real gun. Sleeping on cold ground without enough to eat, nor clean water to drink, and sickness everywhere. He’s so brave and honorable and careless of himself that he’ll get killed for sure, and it will be my fault for not trying hard enough to save him.
Homer meets up with many interesting characters and his “mostly” true adventures are worthy of the Newbery Honor it received. Homer’s story is often touching and his devotion to finding is brother is honorable. Readers will enjoy hearing of Homer’s travels and will also receive a front row ticket to the battle of Gettysburg.
Here are some Civil war sites to enhance your reading experience.