Onion John

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Onion John
Onion John.jpg
First edition
Author Joseph Krumgold
Illustrator Symeon Shimin
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Thomas Y. Crowell
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
ISBN 0-06-440144-8
OCLC 29858305

Onion John is a novel written by Joseph Krumgold and published in 1959. It was the winner of the 1960 Newbery Medal. The story is set in 1950s New Jersey, and tells the story of 12-year-old Andy Rusch and his friendship with an eccentric hermit who lives on the outskirts of the small town of Serenity.

Plot introduction[edit]

Onion John is an unusual man: a European immigrant who lives in a hut made of stone and furnished with bathtubs. He befriends young Andy Rusch, the only person in Serenity who can understand his speech. As Andy comes to know Onion John (so named because he grows the best onions in town, and eats them like apples), he finds that the man believes some odd things. In Onion John's world, friendly spirits live in the clouds, and evil spirits can be banished by smoking them out. His needs are few, since the townspeople are happy to give him castoff clothing after someone dies, and he earns a little money by doing odd jobs around Serenity. Andy and his friends are always happy to go along with whatever Onion John says.

Plot summary[edit]

Life turns upside-down for John when Andy's father decides to get the Rotary Club to build Onion John a new modern home, complete with electricity, running water, stove, and only one bathtub. The whole town signs on, committees are created, and the house goes up on the site of John's old stone hut. Almost immediately after moving in, John, unused to modern appliances, leaves newspaper on the stove. The ensuing fire destroys the house. Mr. Rusch is determined to rebuild the house, never noticing that Onion John was uncomfortable and unhappy in his new surroundings. He wants to fumigate the whole town. Andy suggests to Onion John that for the people of Serenity to leave him alone, he should run away from town. However, Andy wants to run away with him. Onion John eventually left the town of Serenity.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Newbery Medal 1960
  • Notable Children's Books of 1940 -1970 (ALA)
  • Lewis Carroll Shelf Award 1960

External links[edit]

Preceded by
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Newbery Medal recipient
Succeeded by
Island of the Blue Dolphins