Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Finding Orion by John David Anderson

Finding Orion by John David Anderson is a middle grade book about a boy named Orion and his quirky family, aptly named the Kwirks. As the book opens, a singing clown has appeared at their door after Mr. Kwirk, a scientist who develops jelly bean flavors, has gotten the family to give him their impression of fried chicken-flavored jelly beans, his latest creation. The clown informs the family that Orion's grandfather has passed away.

They pack up and drive to Papa Kwirk's sister's home, where they attend a very strange funeral and then are sent on a quest, a scavenger hunt that will lead to Papa Kwirk's ashes.

I don't want to give away any details because Finding Orion is every bit as quirky and fun as it sounds. I will forewarn you, though, that I found the first third or so of the book mildly dull. It had this crazy start with the clown and the friend chicken jelly beans and then . . . meh. The trip to visit Papa Kwirk's sister and attend his funeral just bored me. There was a lot of time spent on tention: tension between Mr. Kwirk and his aunt, talk of Mr. Kwirk's difficult relationship with his father and why he left home then seldom met up with his father, etc. It was only when the scavenger hunt began that things really began to pick up speed. From that point on, I really enjoyed the book and I absolutely loved the way it ended.

Recommended - The first third or so of the book is slow but hang in there, if you read it. The best is yet to come. The scavenger hunt really feels like the beginning of the story, to me. As they chase down objects and messages that bring up the past and require Mr. Kwirk to recall his childhood, the true meaning behind the things that Papa Kwirk did — things that were misinterpreted by his son, the father of the Kwirk family — Orion and his family begin to realize that Papa Kwirk may not have always been able to communicate effectively but his heart was in the right place. A lovely, upbeat, goofy, and heartwarming story.

I think I got my copy of Finding Orion (an ARC) from Walden Pond Press via Shelf Awareness.  My thanks for the review copy!

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