Sometimes, the most unexpected of events can happen that change someone’s life in such a dramatic way. Something like waking up one morning and finding a little boy sleeping on the porch, for example. This is what happened one day to John and Marta, a couple living on a farm who seem to have the perfect simple life. Then a child appears—a child who seems to have been abandoned and needs their care—and everything is changed. The routines are gone. Surprises happen every day. And something magical, something like a special fondness for a child, eventually appears and makes their life richer beyond measure. But whose child is this? And why aren’t his parents coming back for him after weeks turn into months?
"The Boy on the Porch" is a touching story by internationally acclaimed author Sharon Creech. It’s the kind of story that reflects something that could very well happen in the real world but at the same time it unfolds in such a way as to make it stand out on its own. I like that there was all this mystery surrounding the child in trying to understand why he doesn’t talk or why he communicates the way he does, and I also liked the way he revealed bits and pieces of himself through his paintings. It was nice to see that a hearing character considered the possibility that the boy might be deaf since he didn’t respond to questions (so often people don’t consider someone might be deaf for not responding), and I also liked how the three of them seemed to “connect” so well along with the animals on the farm. It was cute how John bought things for the child—a paint set, guitar—and it was touching to see how Marta became so protective of the child after other people started asking questions. The child really touched their hearts and made them turn into people they never knew they could be. That’s what bringing a child into a person’s life does; it changes a person so dramatically and yet in such a good way.
While I think this is a good story, there’s not a whole lot of description in it. We are told a bit about what the boy looks like (“his feet bare and dusty, his clothes fashioned from rough linen … his eyes wide, a deep, dark brown”) but not enough to get a good picture of the boy. Likewise, we don’t get any descriptive details about the other characters at all–not John, not Marta and not the sheriff. We don’t even know their last names. It was hard to picture these people without a rough idea of how old they were, what color their hair was or even whether they were fat or thin. I couldn’t get a good picture of what they looked like as I read this story. I realize this story was written for young readers—it’s a simple story for simple readers—but some of that detail would have been nice. Even if it was something like “John’s black hair was tousled in the wind” or “Marta worriedly ran her hand through her brown hair.” There’s also no background on John and Marta. A lot is revealed about the boy in what he does and how he acts, but not much about John and Marta. For example, why don’t they have children of their own? Was this a decision they made? Or did they try to have children but did not succeed? How long have they been married? And where is their farm even located? There is no city or state ever mentioned. I admit I was a little disappointed with this book falling so short on those things, especially after having seen just how amazing a writer Sharon Creech can be after reading "Walk Two Moons" (a book I loved). Still, I understand that every book has a purpose and every book is written for a specific reader or audience.
"The Boy on the Porch" is a touching, magical story of how a child changes the lives of two people who thought their life was perfect just the way it was. It is the kind of story that hammers home the message of how everything happens for a reason and sometimes a small thing like finding a child sleeping on the porch can usher in a new chapter in someone’s life. "The Boy on the Porch" is a great story for a family to share and enjoy. It is definitely the kind of story to makes readers think, take stock of their lives and ponder how something that may be bad on the surface can actually turn into something good.
Fans of Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech's Ruby Holler will love her latest tween novel about finding family when you least expect it.
When a young couple finds a boy asleep on their porch, their lives take a surprising turn. Unable to speak, the boy Jacob can't explain his history. All John and Marta know is that they have been chosen to care for him.
And, as their connection and friendship with Jacob grow, they embrace his exuberant spirit and talents. The three of them blossom into an unlikely family and begin to see the world in brand-new ways.
The Boy on the Porch is a singular story about opening your heart and discovering home in unexpected places.
Age Level: 8 - 12 | Grade Level: 3 - 7