A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Finding Orion, by beloved middle-grade author John David Anderson, is the tale of an odd quest, the odd family who find themselves on it, and a whole lot of love, misunderstanding, and righting of past wrongs. In the past and in the present, kid and adult characters deal with heavy stuff, including death, war, alcoholism, industrial espionage, family estrangement. There's a lot of humor, a lot of heart, and many inadvisable adventures (from burglarizing backyards to warding off thugs with a sword). And there's the occasional "piss," "crap," and assorted bathroom and gross-out humor. It's a voyage of discovery to understand their recently departed and definitely out-there grandfather, and along the way parents and kids learn a lot about themselves and each other while accumulating tales to last a lifetime.
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What's the story?
As FINDING ORION begins, 12-year-old Orion Kwirk and his family are just sitting down to taste-test his chemist dad's latest jelly bean flavor (fried chicken, which is a lot better than previous creations garlic and armpit) when the doorbell rings. At the door is a clown, who bursts into a silly-sounding song with a clear message -- Papa Kwirk, the estranged father of Orion's dad, has died. Even for the Kwirks, who are not known for being exactly normal, this is strange. But as they head back to Fletcher Kwirk's hometown for the funeral, they don't know how strange things are going to get. Burglary, gluttony, swordplay, and revelations ensue.
Is it any good?
This unusual family quest story is lots of fun and loaded with heart. This family is Kwirk by name, quirky by nature: Dad a genius chemist, Mom's an astronomer, the kids are all named after constellations, and these are their adventures. Which are unlikely, hilarious, poignant, occasionally on the wrong side of the law, but all on the convoluted path to understanding (and appreciating) who we and our loved ones really are. Finding Orion's 12-year-old narrator is a highly relatable middle kid trying to cope with being in a family of oddball prodigies when he just wants to be normal.
"It's hard, sometimes, reconciling the difference between what you really feel about something and what you know you're supposed to feel.
"Like when you're sitting in the high school auditorium watching your sister on stage dressed like a freaky cat/human hybrid, singing and slinking around and licking her furry arms. And you know you should be proud of her, because she's your sister and it's one of the lead roles. And you are, sort of, but you're also really tired of sitting there watching this incredibly stupid musical where nothing makes any sense, and you wish the freaking Jellicle cats would just hurry up and get to the Jellicle Ball or maybe be runover by a Jellicle truck so you can go home and zone out with your Playstation."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about quest stories. Finding Orion may seem like an unusual example, but does it have anything in common with more traditional stories involving, say, magical objects or damsels in distress? How does the quest affect the different characters? Do their discoveries change them?
What do you know about the Vietnam War? Do you know anyone who was there? Have they ever told you about their lives during that time?
Have you ever seen Cats? How did you like it?
- Author: John David Anderson
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Walden Pond Press
- Publication date: May 7, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 22, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love weird facts and adventurous quests
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