From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6–Creech draws readers into a brilliantly simple, sentimental, and adult-centered moral scenario. On a rural American farm, an isolated couple finds a mute, mysterious, and artistic boy (who could be six, seven, or eight) abandoned on their porch. The longer he stays with them, the more his various talents become apparent and the more attached they become. They dread the day someone might come back to claim him. Readers will fall for the boy along with the taciturn couple and will become utterly absorbed in the what-would-you-do element of this cleanly written narrative. Others, however, may be distracted by the overly idyllic portrayal of farm and rural life, one-dimensional characters, and the aura of righteousness. It is, after all, an far-fetched premise, no matter how well written by such a renowned and skillful author. As an excellent vehicle for exploring moral quandaries, schools and libraries seeking books around which to discuss values will definitely want this title. However, Creech's fans should be aware that this is a departure from her previous fare, more like her The Unfinished Angel (HarperCollins, 2009) than her titles featuring strong female narrators.–Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DCα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
John and Marta, a young couple living on an out-of-the-way farm, find a young boy deposited on their porch. He does not speak, seems unafraid, and has only a crumpled note to indicate his identity: “Plees taik kair of Jacob. He is a good boy. Wil be bak wen we can.” The uncertain couple open their home and their hearts to this silent boy with a talent for music and art and love. It is a fragile happiness, lived moment to moment as Marta and John dare not make long-term plans. The brief chapters of this slender novel reinforce the idea of time stolen, as the days unfold in the shadow of the inevitable return of the boy’s family. What could be a melodrama is crafted into a richer and more gracious story in Creech’s masterful hands. The outcome of Jacob’s time with John and Marta is long lasting and solid and pays forward in a completely believable and satisfying manner. Grades 4-6. --Kara Dean