Onion John

by Joseph Krumgold

Other authorsSymeon Shimin (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1984



Local notes

PB Kru (c.2)




HarperCollins (1984), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 256 pages


His friendship with the town odd-jobs man, Onion John, causes a conflict between Andy and his father.


Original publication date


Physical description

256 p.; 5.13 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member goodnightmoon
I think, if I was 50 years older, I would really appreciate this coming-of-age story and its gentle humor. The conversations sounded so stilted to me, though, and the relationship between Andy and his dad was so strange and dated. I did like Onion John's crazy ideas, and the message of not forcing
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your ideas on someone else. This book couldn't be written today (can you imagine a story about a weird man who befriends local boys?), but it was probably pretty cool for its time.
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LibraryThing member SHARONTHEIL
Onion John is about a normal 12 year-old boy in conflict with his father over his friendship with an unusual friend, Onion John. Onion John is a homeless man that doesn't speak English. However, Onion John knows about nature, and meditation. The boy convinces the town to build Onion John a home,
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and the project brings the entire community together. Unfortunately, the community wants to build Onion John a 'regular respectful house' and Onion John likes his wood stove and having his bathtub in the living room. This is a classic coming of age tale about the first time a boy realizes that his dad is wrong about something, the first time the boy makes his own decision. Eventually his father understands that his son is growing up.
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LibraryThing member debnance
Onion John is Andy’s best friend, but Onion John is not an ordinary kid….Onion John is a man who does things his own way. John has lived in Serenity for many years, scavenging to furnish his home, working a little to buy food and supplies. Then he needs a new hinge for his door and suddenly
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everyone wants to change Onion John, from his home to his ways of making a living to his ways of thinking. The town gets together and decides to build a brand new house for John; it is not really what John wants and before the second day has passed, the house has burned to the ground. Should we change people? Should we try and make everyone fit in? Can it be done? Or does a world need people who don’t quite fit, people like Onion John?
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LibraryThing member Sandyflippers
My favorite book from elementary school (besides Beaverly Cleary books).
Still think this book is the reason I like onions
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Andy is such a likeable and innocent boy - not a lot of 12 year olds like him in the world today. Mr. Krumgold creates characters who are memorable and parents who can admit when they are wrong and children who can love and respect their parents even when they don't agree. Lovely.
LibraryThing member fingerpost
Onion John is a genial, eccentric old tramp in the town of Serenity. 12-year old Andrew becomes best friends with the old man, who barely speaks a word of English. Yet, somehow, Andrew can understand him.
At first, Andrew's father wants to keep his son away from the old man, because he wants his boy
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to grow up to be an engineer, and Onion John's crazy superstitions are, he believes, hazardous to his son's education. But in time, his father decides the town should help out Onion John... by building him a new house. One that Onion John himself doesn't want. But he's too nice to risk hurting anyone's feelings about it.
Although it seems through most of the book that Andy and his relationship with Onion John are the focus, the real point of the story is his relationship with his father.
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