Sunday, June 10, 2012

Homer Price

Probably the best read aloud we have done so far is Homer Price, by Robert McCloskey.  I had never heard of this book, which was published in 1943.  It was described as a "young boy's story in Centerburg" and sounded a little boring.  But, it is mentioned in several reading lists in various curriculum I read.  So, I thought I would give it a try.
The book is a great read aloud for boys and girls.  There are five stand-alone chapters.  You could read them in any order.  The best one is Chapter Three, The Doughnuts.  We read them in order.  I initially described this book to a friend as a "Dennis the Menace" type story, but I don't think that is accurate.  Homer is a good, honest boy who does not get into any mischief or trouble. 

There is a lot of action and adventure and the plot lines are silly, so every chapter captured my girls' attention.  Because it was published in 1943, Homer lives a different life from my girls: he listens to a football game on the radio, he drives a horse and buggy into town.  These differences encouraged a lot of discussion from my girls ... who still seem fascinated by how children lived so long ago.

After we read the book, I learned that short movies were made of two of the chapters.  Fortunately, both of those movies have been uploaded to YouTube and can be watched for free.  The acting and production quality of both movies are mediocre, but they do follow the book closely.  The Doughnuts is uploaded into three parts: Part One, Part Two, and Part ThreeThe Case of the Cosmic Comic is uploaded into two parts: Part One and Part Two.  I watched these movies with them once and the girls have since watched them a few times on their own (they can actually do searches on You Tube by themselves ... a potentially dangerous skill!).  I never know how much my children retain from our read-alouds.  So, I was pleased when we started watching The Case of the Cosmic Comic and Sabrina (my 4 year old) said "I can't wait to hear him say OUCH!", which was the main point of the chapter we had read several days earlier.

The fourth chapter was a funny story about a gigantic ball of string and a race around a track with it.  So, we re-created that on a big poster:
The girls had fun unrolling a ball of yarn (I don't think we even own a ball of string), but it was a lot harder for them to unroll it then I thought it would be.  I drew a track on a poster board and then attempted to have them roll their yarn around the track at the same time.  This did not work at all, so they had to take turns.  We taped down the yarn every few inches. 
Then we went on a field trip to the large Krispy Kreme store on Ponce de Leon Avenue.  We had never taken the girls there before, but Robby has actually been there many times because he once worked near there.  For his groom's cake at our wedding, Robby actually opted for a tower of Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnuts.  So, this was a field trip we had to take when Robby was able to go.  Plus, I called them and they said they make doughnuts from 5:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. and then again from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.  Needless to say, we chose the evening option.
I think this may have been the girls' first trip into any doughnut shop.  Here we are looking at all the completed doughnuts:
When we arrived, they were making whole doughnuts, which will be filled.  Here are the raw doughnuts coming off the "proofer" and about to plop into oil:
 Here are the doughnuts coming out of the oil and onto the conveyor belt:
I know this is out of order, but here are the doughnuts floating through the oil.  They are flipped over half way through so the other side can get fried.
 Here are the doughnuts about to get showered with glaze:
 These doughnuts have been glazed:
After we watched the to-be-filled doughnuts being made for about 30 minutes (seriously, they made a ton of doughnuts), we went across the street to Mary Mac's Tea Room for dinner.  Sabrina had a cup of "pot likker" for the first time.  Then, we went back to Krispy Kreme.  Luckily, they were now making traditional, with the holes, doughnuts:
Some of these doughnuts were sent under the glaze shower, but about half of them were diverted to stay dry.  They showed us a second, smaller conveyor belt they have which does nothing but glaze doughnuts.  They said they'll keep the doughnuts dry until they need more freshly glazed doughnuts.

We probably watched them make these doughnuts for an hour.  Sabrina kept saying "the doughnuts keep coming and coming and coming!"  I cannot believe how many doughnuts they made.  About ten feet from the end of the conveyor belt, an employee pulled all the "perfect" doughnuts off the conveyor belt and put them in boxes and trays.  At least a third of the doughnuts, and possibly up to half, were considered "imperfect" because they were dented, incompletely glazed, didn't flip over in the oil, etc.  These doughnuts simply rode the conveyor belt to the very end and fell into a big trash can.
We asked what they did with the defective doughnuts and were told they threw them out.  The baker claimed that they used to donate them to homeless shelters but someone for some reason sued Krispy Kreme so they had to stop donating the doughnuts.  I have no idea if that is true.  It seemed amazing to me how many doughnuts were trashed.

We went there on a Tuesday evening and saw an enormous amount of doughnuts being made.  The baker told us that they are much busier on the weekends, unless they get a corporate order.  I asked what a corporate order was, and he said that is when CNN or some big company orders over 500 dozen doughnuts.  He told us that all the Krispy Kreme doughnuts which are sold in grocery stores are made in a bakery in Duluth.

Of course we had to let Sabrina pick out a doughnut to eat.  They also gave them free hats:
Catherine was interested in the doughnuts, but not as mesmerized as Sabrina was.  After about thirty minutes, Catherine sat down and worked on the 21 page Wizard of Oz book she has been working on for over a week.  She colored pictures of the characters, taped them into the book we made, and is adding text to it.  She has also added some of the lyrics from the songs to it.
All in all, this was one of the best field trips we have taken.  The girls had a blast and it really helped the book come to life.  I thought about making doughnuts, which I saw on other blog posts about this book, but felt that this field trip would actually be simpler. 

I highly recommend reading Homer Price and will likely read the sequel with the girls at some point.


Tina said...

The doughnut making looks fascinating!!! We are going to have to go do that. We watched the Super Duper video on youtube today and right before we started it I asked Braedon what he remembered from the story. He answered with "when Super Duper says ouch"...too funny.

Victoria said...

That is the exact same thing Sabrina remembered from the Super Duper story ...