Thursday, October 24, 2013

CYBILS Review: The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech




ABOUT THE BOOK

From Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech comes a singular story that reminds us of the surprising connections that bloom when unconditional love and generosity prevail. For when a young couple finds a boy asleep on their porch, their lives take an unexpectedly joyous turn.

When John and Marta found the boy on the porch, they were curious, naturally, as to why he was there-and they didn't expect him to stay, not at first, but he did stay, day after day, until it seemed as if he belonged, running and smiling and laughing his silent laugh, tapping and patting on every surface as he made his music, and painting-with water, with paint, with mud-those swirly swirls and swings and trees.

One day a young couple wakes to find a boy asleep on their porch. Unable to speak, the boy cannot explain his history. What kind of person would leave their child with strangers? All they know is that they have been chosen to care for this boy. And as their connection to him grows, they embrace his exuberant spirit and talents. The three of them blossom into an unlikely family, and John and Marta and the boy begin to see the world in brand-new ways. Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech delivers a poignant story of finding family when you least expect it.

REVIEW

When Jacob shows up on John and Marta's porch, neither one knows what to think.  They welcome him to their home, feed him and clothe him and try in general to do right by him.  But the boy doesn't talk and so they have no idea where he came from or who he really is.  Despite all the questions they quickly grow to love the boy who has quite the talent for art and music and who enjoys riding the cow and playing with the dog. Well aware that the boy's family may be back for him, John and Marta try to find out his origins. Just as they are getting used to the idea of having him around permanently, disaster strikes.  But John and Marta are forever changed and it leads to them making a surprising decision. 

Strengths:  As is to be expected from Sharon Creech, the writing is beautiful and spare.  She manages to convey strong emotions in a surprisingly few words.  And she's a master of the show don't tell mantra.   I had no trouble connecting to John and Marta and Jacob.  The theme of the story is masterfully presented.  I loved the book.

Weaknesses: Who on earth is this book aimed at? The length and spare prose suggest the book is aimed at young readers.  However the story is told from the adult point of view, which I find a bit odd for a children's book.  I am really not sure who I would recommend the book to other than adults. This is a book that I would want to try out with kids before buying for my library, just to get a reaction. Sigh, which is too bad since it is a  wonderful book. The other issue I had with the book was time period.  I really don't have any idea what time period this is supposed to take place in and that threw me off a little bit not knowing what the legalities would be for keeping an abandoned child.


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