Monday, March 28, 2011

Homer Price

Homer Price is the title character of a pair of children's books written by Robert McCloskey in the early 1940s, Homer Price and Centerburg Tales. Homer lives in Centerburg, a small town in Ohio just north of Columbus. He is a mild-mannered boy who enjoys fixing radios, and who somehow gets involved in a series of outrageous incidents, such as tending an inexplicably unstoppable doughnut-making machine in his uncle's diner, or caring for mystery plants that turn out to be giant form of allergy-inducing ragweed. He does odd jobs like raking leaves, and sweeping up the diner or the nearby barber shop.

James Daugherty said of Homer Price, "It is America laughing at itself with a broad and genial humanity, without bitterness or sourness or sophistication."

One of Homer Price's adventures, "The Case of the Cosmic Comic", parodies the Superman phenomenon, with Homer and his best friend Freddy attending the local personal appearance of Freddy's favorite superhero. Freddy is unable to understand that "The Super-Duper" is an ordinary actor in a costume, and expects him to be capable of super feats. Homer, however, quietly displays a more mature view of the hero.

Flim-flam merchants and larger-than-life paraphernalia appear in several stories. One features a snake-oil salesman — Professor Atmos P. H. Ear — offloading an odorless, colorless, tasteless chemical called "Ever-So-Much-More-So" that when sprinkled on things, supposedly enhances everything; a soft bed would become softer, a fast car becomes faster, and so on.

Many of the male residents of Centerburg share first names with classical figures; "Grandpa Hercules", "Uncle Ulysses", "Uncle Telemachus", and, of course, Homer himself.

African-American characters appear in the books, portrayed positively as ordinary citizens although the drawing of the boy who finds the diamond bracelet in the donut is drawn in decidedly tattered and patched clothing.

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