Homer on the Case

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4.5 (2)
 
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Homer on the Case
Author(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
April 01, 2021
ISBN
978-1682632543
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Celebrated author and illustrator Henry Cole returns with a page-turning mystery adventure about a homing pigeon and a parrot who team up to convince their humans to investigate an animal crime spree.

Homing pigeon Homer and his parrot friend Lulu learn something is afoul when they witness four-legged criminals stealing valuables from both the animal and human communities. Using the sleuthing techniques he’s gathered from his favorite mystery comics, Homer and Lulu track down the bandits, but need human help to stop them for good. Can they find a way to communicate with their human keepers and lead them to the culprits’ hideout to stop the thieves?

Award-winning author and illustrator Henry Cole delivers a fun, action-packed middle grade novel that will keep readers turning the page to find out if the crime-solving pigeon will get his guy. A supporting cast of animal and human characters forms a community that will have every reader wishing they could join in the hunt.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Those dirty, thieving rats
Overall rating
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
Otto and his Granddad are interested in homing pigeons and are training Homer to race. He makes good time returning to his rooftop home when they release him some distance away, and sometimes even beats them back! Homer has learned to read from the newspapers that line his cage, and takes a great interest in the human world. He also talks to Carlos, a park pigeon, and makes the acquaintance of Lulu, a parrot who has moved to the area with her girl, Charlotte. When Homer sees a rat stealing a woman's bracelet, and later sees other crimes committed by cats, he is startled to see the crimes reported in the paper. Like the comic character of whom he is fond, Dick Tracy, Homer wants to solve the mystery. It's not easy to do, but when Granddad's pocket watch, which housed a picture of his beloved wife, is stolen, Homer redoubles his efforts. By watching the park closely, Homer and his friends are able to see the thieves steal things, and manage to follow them to their secret underground lair. Once they find the culprit, though, they must figure out a way to communicate their findings to the children, who must then struggle to be believed. Fortunately, things work out, Addison Park is once again safe, and the children even get written up in the newspaper.
Good Points
I wasn't quite sure when this book was set, since there was a comment about the picture of Granddad's wife being taken "during the war", the inclusion of Dick Tracy comics (which are, apparently, still being published but which flourished in the mid twentieth century), and small mentions of things like pocket watches and fountain pens. This gave the book an air of a classic title, although it seems to be set in the present day. This is a great way to introduce young readers to all manner of artifacts from the last century; I wonder how an eight year old would react to the idea of a fountain pen!

The mystery is one that is easier for the animals to solve, since they are able to observe the world from a different vantage point than humans. It's fun to see how Homer and Lulu try to communicate with their humans through newspaper clippings and the squawking of seemingly random words! The perpetrator something of a shock, and young readers should be warned against climbing into sewers, no matter how important their quest.

Cole's pencil illustrations are the real draw here, and will appeal to fans of Garth Williams' or Brian Selznick's illustrative style. Sadly, there are no mice, like in A Nest for Celeste; I have a soft spot for pictures of mice, and some certainly could have been worked into the park scenes!

This reminded me a bit of Eve Titus' Basil of Baker Street, one of my favorites from my childhood, and joins the ranks of books with animal detectives, such as Hale's Chet Gecko mysteries, Gardner's Horace and Bunwinkle and Quinn's Birdie and Bowser or Queenie and Arthur books.
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charming middle grade mystery
Overall rating
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
HOMER ON THE CASE is a delightful middle grade mystery, featuring unlikely detectives. Homer, a homing pigeon, and Lulu, a parrot, have witnessed some crimes taking place as shiny things are getting stolen. After seeing a bracelet and a gold pen stolen, they must convince their human keepers to help them investigate these crimes. With an old detective feel, these birds on the case are in for a great adventure.

What I loved: This was a fast-paced read with a mystery that keeps the plot moving quickly. The main characters are absolutely as fun as you would expect from two birds leading the charge, and I enjoyed the writing style that felt akin to a Sherlock Holmes/detective novel. The crimes are great for the middle grade audience, and the animals throughout add to the fun. This book is full of charm.

Each chapter also includes illustrations in black and white that help to bring the story to life and enhance the experience for young readers. This book is well suited for even young middle grade/chapter book readers with a compelling plot and delightful characters. It would also work well as a bedtime book to be read over a few nights.

Final verdict: HOMER ON THE CASE is a charming middle grade detective read with fun characters, great illustrations, and a fast-paced plot. Recommend for mystery and animal lovers.
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