Chasing Orion

by Kathryn Lasky

During the summer of 1952, eleven-year-old Georgia, who goes by Georgie, moves into... read more

During the summer of 1952, eleven-year-old Georgia, who goes by Georgie, moves into a new house and meets Phyllis, the teenage girl next door. Phyllis is not only friendly but beautiful. She is also encased in an iron lung, a victim of polio. Phyllis’s parents talk about her future as if everything is bright and anything is possible, and Phyllis always agrees when they’re around. But when she’s alone with Phyllis, Georgie begins to sense that beneath her seemingly upbeat exterior Phyllis is desperate and unhappy. Phyllis’s growing interest in Georgie’s older brother, Emmett—something Georgie had initially encouraged—begins to worry Georgie as she wonders if Phyllis is motivated by something darker than desire for romance. Does she want Emmett to help her die? Kathryn Lasky’s increasingly tense and beautifully written novel is a wonderful portrait of its time, when the fears surrounding polio limited children’s freedom, especially in summer, and the disease itself forever altered lives. As a narrator Georgie is wise beyond her years, yet Lasky’s story not only works but is a skilled treatment of a psychologically complex topic for its audience. (Ages 10–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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