Homer Price

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First edition (publ. Viking Press)

Homer Price is the title character of a pair of children's books written by Robert McCloskey. Homer Price was published in 1943, and Centerburg Tales in 1951.


Homer lives in the fictional town of Centerburg, Ohio (although a town with this name actually does exist in central Ohio). 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 a giant form of allergy-inducing ragweed. He does odd jobs like raking leaves, and sweeping up the diner or the nearby barber shop. His main job is helping out in his father's business, a motor court, where Homer also resides.

James Daugherty said of Homer Price, "It is America laughing at itself with a broad and genial humanity, without bitterness or sourness or sophistication." [1]

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.

Another adventure of Homer's is when an adult friend of his in Centerburg wins a contest for composing an advertising jingle for shaving lotion, but the prize money is stolen on the air by an armed robbery. By chance, the robbers are staying at the same motor court, and Homer sees it as his chance to stop them and claim a cash reward in order to build all sorts of radios and (at the time) an expensive television. Although Homer is eager to profit from the reward, he is also genuinely interested in bringing the robbers to justice as they stole from a man he knew.

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. During a centennial celebration of Centerburg, a chorus from the African Baptist Church provides music, although the drawing of the boy who finds the diamond bracelet in the donut is drawn in decidedly tattered and patched clothing.


Homer Price[edit]

  1. The Case of the Sensational Scent
  2. The Case of the Cosmic Comic
  3. The Doughnuts
  4. The Mystery Yarn
  5. Nothing New under the Sun (Hardly)
  6. The Wheels of Progress

Centerburg Tales[edit]

  1. Grandpa Hercules
  2. Experiment 13
  3. Ever-So-Much-More-So
  4. Pie and Punch and You-Know-Whats

Film and television adaptations[edit]

  1. "The Doughnuts", short subject, 1963, Weston Woods Studios
  2. "The Case of the Cosmic Comic", short subject, 1976, Weston Wood Studios
  3. "Homer and the Wacky Doughnut Machine", ABC Weekend Special episode, 1977, ABC Circle Films



  1. ^ Robert McCloskey, 1914-2003