27 April 2014

Onion John: 1960 Newbery Medal Book

The beginning of March 2014 I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book.  A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all.  Want to keep track of which books I read?  Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!

First off, I want to issue an apology for not blogging for a bit.  I have been reading, I just have also been busy.  Since it was a slow work week last week, I was busy working on genealogy, since Fold3 had free access to its Civil War databases for the latter half of May and Ancestry.com just released its first batch of Pennsylvania death certificates.  I also had Easter, the dear husband's birthday, and stuff to do with my wonderful batch of high school kids at church.

Onion John.jpg
Cover of the book - used for identification purposes only under the fair use clause
 Onion John: Throwback to an Innocent Age

"Because everything's changed for Onion John,on account of us getting to be friends the way we did."

Twelve year old Andy Rausch is at the edge of life where childhood innocence meets grown-up cynicism. He lives in Serenity, New Jersey and works for his dad in the family hardware store when he's not playing with his friends or attending school.  One day, while playing a Little League baseball game, he becomes friends with the town's eccentric hermit, Onion John.   Onion John lives in a stone hut with no running water, collects things from the town dump, and wears cast off clothing.  He also speaks a sort of jibberish language mixed with a smattering of English.  Andy soon becomes John's best friend, and discovers the old man lives in a world where clouds harbor good spirits, and the way to rid evil spirits is to smoke them out with different kinds of wood fires.  He enjoys the way Onion John lives and thinks.  But when Andy's dad starts to take interest in the old man and in improving John's life, Andy must make a decision that may change hs entire outlook on life, and end his friendship with his new best friend.

Onion John by Joseph Krumgold is a story of loss of innocence, and of the one man who still holds on to it.  John is a character who is a grown up, yet mysteriously he is still as innocent as a child.  Andy is a child who is about to lose the innocence of childhood as he enters into his teenage years, and while he wants to hold on to it, he struggles.

The book takes place in the mid fifties, and while a bit outdated, is still a good read.  However, I had a hard time reading this book.  The first part of the story was awesome and the character of John was well thought out and written.  I couldn't bear to finish reading it (though I forced myself to) because of the way the town takes an interest in John.  It was another tale of trying to improve a way of life that really didn't need improving.

What I did like was the ending.  It isn't a clear cut ending, such as life is not always clear, and it leaves something up to the imagination.  There is a "what if" aspect to the end of the book, which makes it worth having to force myself to finish this Newbery Medal winner.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are subject to deletion if they are inappropriate or deemed as spam. So please think carefully. I have the right to delete comments, as I am the owner of this blog.