Andy Rusch wants nothing more than to work in his father’s hardware store. His father, however, has other ideas. He wants Andy to go to MIT and become an astronaut. Andy is not worried about this, though, since he is only twelve and has plenty of time to grow up.
Andy has many friends, but the one whose company he especially enjoys is Onion John, an elderly immigrant who lives on the outskirts of town in a makeshift hut. Onion John raises the best onions in town, hence the name. He also seems to know a lot about nature, like what rituals are necessary to end a drought. Indeed, Onion John adheres to many superstitions that fascinate Andy and his friends, but has Mr. Rusch concerned. If Andy’s head is filled with crazy ideas, will he remain focused enough to make it to college? As for Andy, he is prepared to do whatever it takes for Onion John and his father to become friends.
Joseph Krumgold’s Newbery winning book demonstrates the devotion a boy can have for his father. Andy cannot imagine anything better than growing up to be just like his father and working beside him. Although Mr. Rusch’s plans are at odds with Andy’s wishes, they eventually come to an understanding that leads to a deeper friendship.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.