Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Boy On The Porch by Sharon Creech

This beautifully written book reads like an adult short story. The child, Jacob, in the story is mute and the point-of-view comes strictly from the adults. Jacob plays, draws, and interacts with the people and animals, but he never speaks out loud. It reminds me of the book, "The Prince Who Fell from the Sky," that has a boy who has no dialogue in the story. This technique makes me identify with the adult voice and seems off-kilter for the target audience of children. I liked the adult perspective on the uncertainties of being a parent, but will young readers connect with the characters and plot? I'm not sure. The pacing might be slow for some young readers, but oh-my, I do like how Sharon Creech puts sentences together. Just as Jacob taps out songs and sounds on any object he can find, Creech has a rhythm to her sentences that makes me want to sing. My only question is the audience and what students will think of the book.

John and Marta find a six or seven-year old boy, Jacob, abandoned on their porch with a note asking them to look after him. The note says the person will come back and get him, but as time passes it seems very unlikely. Because Jacob can't speak, John and Marta cannot find out any information from him about his past and who wrote the note. Months go by and they come to love the boy like their own child making them fearful of him being taken back and marring their happiness as a family. A nice message regarding what makes a family.

This story is about the transformation of John and Marta from a childless couple to learning what it means to love and care for a young boy. John is worried Jacob isn't boyish enough while Marta worries about him not having friends. They nurture his talent for music and painting and do not bully or criticize him. In return, he loves them unconditionally. The two struggle with telling the authorities about the lost boy because they don't really want him to be found by the person who left the note. They eventually do the right thing, but almost lose the boy over their choice. Creech shows how their decision was from a good heart, even if misguided. The story also shows the lack of laws in place to protect children from parents who don't know how to parent. In this regard, it might be a good book for a book club with grade 5 students. The story is only 150 pages so it is a quick read. The plot is well organized and the tension from wondering when or if the parents will come back for the boy kept me turning the pages. Like I said, I just don't know if students will take interest.

4 Smileys

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