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18 June 2013 THE BOY ON THE PORCH by Sharon Creech, Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins, September 2013, 160p., ISBN: 978-0-06-189235-6


"People talking without speaking

People hearing without listening

People writing songs that voices never share

And no one dared

Disturb the sound of silence"

-- Paul Simon (1964)


"Marta wasn't completely convinced that the boy was unable to talk.  She wondered if he just was not ready to talk to them, or if he needed to recover from some horrible experience.  Maybe he simply needed time.  Always, too, at the back of her mind was the worry that the closer they came to know the boy and the more they loved him, the harder it would be to let him go."


A boy suddenly appears on the porch of a young couple named John and Marta.  The boy is accompanied by a note that reads, "Plees taik kair of Jacob.  He is a god good boy.  Wil be bak wen we can."


The boy takes to the couple's farm as if he's been there forever.  The couple takes to the boy, who gives meaning to their lives.  The boy has a stunning and seemingly innate talent for making music and art, and the couple provide him instruments and art materials to feed his growth.


But the boy cannot or does not speak a sound.  Given that the boy maintains his silence, and that the entire story is told from the couple's perspective, there is a growing mystery to unravel.  As the couple falls more and more in love with the boy, their fear of losing him heightens. 


For some reason, the young couple has also, previously, had a beagle appear at their farm.  And subsequent to the boy's mysterious arrival, a cow also appears. 


The boy learns to ride the cow.  The cow, the beagle, and the rest of the animals at the farm adore the boy.


But where did he come from, and do they really only get to be with him for a limited time?  If the boy is taken from them, will they hold onto the openheartedness that they have developed, in part, thanks to the boy?


"Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all."

-- Alfred Lord Tennyson (1850)


Just seeing Sharon Creech's name on an advance copy is good reason to rejoice.  But this hauntingly beautiful story about loving without limits, overcoming fears of loss, accepting that which is, and the sounds of silence, is a truly special and memorable tale. 


Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/



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