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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Boy on the Porch, written by Sharon Creech. Joanna Cotler Books, Harper. 2013. $18.99 ages 8 and up

"She was halfway to the house when she realized Jacob wasn't following her. He was scooping up dirt and leaves and nudging the baby squirrels into a roughly shaped nest in his hands. After he carried his bundle to the hollow stump and gently set them inside, Jacob moved to the shade of another tree on the far side of the house. From there he could watch over the stump."

I moved from Robbie and Maddy in The Truth of Me to Marta, John and Jacob. What a lovely, lovely way to spend some quiet hours! Here is the first chapter, read by the superb Sharon Creech:

In simple, polished text Sharon Creech tells the boy's story. John and Marta watch over him as he sleeps, not wanting him to awaken and be afraid. Once he is awake and fed, they realize that he does not speak. He offers a note...'plees taik kair of Jacob. He is a god good boy. Wil be bak wen we can.'

So, their life together begins. It is fraught with the worry that someone will come for him. As they spend time with him and grow to love him, it is the last thing that they want to happen. But, they know they live on borrowed time.  Jacob is a delight, creative and communicative with the farm animals. The pastoral setting adds a calm, peaceful feel to the quiet action.

At first, they are confused by the circumstances that bring Jacob to them. Then, as they grow to love him and realize how much wonder he brings to their lives, they begin to rue the day that those who left him will return to claim him once more. The uncertainty underlies all that happens in their daily lives.

John constantly checks with the sheriff and in town to see if any child has been reported missing. The sheriff understands the unusual circumstances that are at play and encourages them to keep doing what they are doing for the young boy. When his father returns for him, they are left with a hole in their hearts and a determination to play a role in the lives of other less fortunate children. Always, they wonder about Jacob. You will wonder, too.

What a remarkable read this was...heartwarming, quiet, lovely, full of grace and promise! Bravo, Sharon Creech. You have done it again!

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