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Literature / Grounded

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Grounded is a young adults/childrens book by Todd Domke published in 1982. It tells the story of an 11-year-old boy named Parker, who dreams of building his own hang glider after a summer of lessons. Problem is he doesn't have the money. So he schemes to get the money by writing, producing and directing a school version of Frankenstein (which during his writing process unwittingly becomes a comedy), and enlisting the help of his friends, classmates and even his rival.


Through an escalating series of unfortunate events, rumors and general silliness, the play becomes the sensation of the school and town, leading to speculative rumors of the likes of the President and Neil Diamond attending.

Finally, the last quarter of the book deals with the glider itself, and the inevitable race against his rival, leading to a finale you almost forgot was the point of all this anyway.

Written by Todd Domke (way better known now for being a major PR consultant for the GOP), this is a cult classic childrens book from the 80s that hits a lot of the right notes of humor and rich characters.

Not to be confused with Grounded, a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids-style Survival Sandbox by Obsidian Entertainment.


This book provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Almost subverted. You almost forget the purpose of the plot is to get money for parts of a hang glider once the play plot kicks in. It finally comes into play the last third of the book.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: The local TV anchor gets exposed that he doesn't wear pants behind the anchor desk when he is surprised by the kid's crashing his news broadcast.
  • Double Meaning: The title. Refers to the downing of a hang glider and the punishment of a child (both of which happen to Parker).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The play. It ends up being a comedy about Frankenstein.
  • Adults Are Useless: These kids sure are completely doing a school play on their own, without any adults directly involved beyond very periphery. Lampshaded a few times.
  • Free-Range Children: Tied with above. Also how they manage to construct a hang glider and have a race without anyone really noticing.