The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

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The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Beautiful and profound fable about a boy who appears on the porch of a childless couple and the difference he makes to their lives. A veritable Tardis of meaning is enclosed within its pages. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: November 2013
Publisher: Andersen
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1849397724

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When Marta and John wake up one morning, there's a surprise in store. A little boy is asleep on their porch. He has an unsigned note asking the couple to care for him. And so they do. And they soon come to love him, even though he cannot talk. But they can't help but worry. Who is Jacob? Will his parents return for him? And if they do, how will Marta and John bear to give him up - this little boy who paints blue trees, rides cows and can make music from anything?

It's short and simply written but this does not mean The Boy on the Porch lacks depth or is only suitable for the little ones. It is suitable for the little ones, of course, because it is whimsical, fantastical and utterly delightful. But it also profound and packed with detail and meaning. This is a story for everyone, just as all stories should be for everyone - young and old, girl and boy, the happy, the sad, the optimist, the care-worn.

Creech, as I've said before, has the soul of a poet. She understands words and the myriad of meanings garnered from the way they are connected. Yet here, she's writing about a little boy who can't - or doesn't - speak. But John and Marta soon discover that Jacob communicates very well, despite his lack of conversation. His gestures and actions all speak volumes. And the rhythms of his music tell timeless stories of landscape and emotion. Jacob demonstrates the full gamut of human interaction without ever saying a word.

You can compare this to the wonderful dialogue between Marta and John. They speak in the shorthand used by people who know each other inside out and what they say isn't always quite what they mean. But each knows what the other means, and the reader does too. It's familiar and it's comforting, even when the couple are worrying about Jacob and what the future holds.

I am an unashamed Sharon Creech fangirl. I think everything she writes is wonderful, so you won't be surprised that I think The Boy on the Porch is wonderful too. Some other reviews have pointed out the book is slight - and, technically, it is, at about 150 pages. But slight in meaning? I don't think so. This is a story about families and love and what bigger topic is there? It has a lot to say, if only you are open to hearing it as Marta and John were open to Jacob. It's also been criticised for lacking a target audience - but again, I think this misses the point. If your theme is family and community then your audience is everyone, surely, is it not? And I can't imagine anyone this story couldn't touch.

The Boy on the Porch comes highly recommended by me.

Don't miss The Great Unexpected, also by Creech. And I think you might also enjoy Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne.

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Buy The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech at


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