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The Boy on the Porch Hardcover – September 3, 2013

60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (September 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061892351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061892356
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sharon Creech is the author of the Newbery Medal winner Walk Two Moons and the Newbery Honor Book The Wanderer. Her other work includes the novels Hate That Cat, The Castle Corona, Replay, Heartbeat, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, Ruby Holler, Love That Dog, Bloomability, Absolutely Normal Chaos, Chasing Redbird, and Pleasing the Ghost, as well as three picture books: A Fine, Fine School; Fishing in the Air; and Who's That Baby? Ms. Creech and her husband live in upstate New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Valerie A. Baute on September 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A boy, about 6 or 7, is left on Marta and John's porch with a note (very poorly written) telling them that the boy's name is Jacob, and "we" will be back for him. The boy doesn't make noise, meaning he doesn't even speak. Marta and John think the parents might be back in a day or two. After that time, they start thinking maybe they should tell someone, but they don't. Eventually, the boy becomes part of their lives, just like their dog, Beagle, and the cow that was found tied to their fence. That happy time unfortunately must end when, as the note implied, someone comes back for him.

This is an extremely quick read, partly because it is short, and partly because it is amazing. So wonderfully written, I was quickly pulled into their lives within very few words. I have to say, I cried at the end, something I never do. Happy tears? Sad tears? You have to read to find out.

Kids grades 4-6, with some mature younger ones, will get a lot out of this charming story. There are obvious issues that are brought to light, such as right vs. wrong. The last few chapters show how one silent little boy can impact so many people's lives, including mine.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Wisconsin Buyer on October 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought Sharon Creech had another Newberry winner as I read this book. I was pulled into the story from page 1. The emotions the book portrayed were excellent. This is a book children and adults will both love. Children will learn a lot about the way the world works from the main characters. The direction the story takes after the heartbreak of losing the boy, sets a good example for readers as to how they can help the unwanted children of the world as they mend their own broken hearts. The shelf of shoes was my favorite part. This is a book I will never forget and the author should be very proud of, it is marvelous. Thank you, Sharon, for this heartwarming look into these characters' lives. Terrific book!!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By The Sleeve on September 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The novel is simply written, but beautiful, profound, and full of mystery. It starts with a small boy left on a porch. He doesn't speak. However, he bonds with animals and responds to his guardians by tapping. Later, he shows remarkable talent for creating music and art. The appearance of his father is an OH NO moment. I won't spoil the book by telling the ending, but I will say that it is heartwarming.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Heidi Grange on October 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By LibraryLady23 on November 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I began reading the first few pages while I was processing the book for my school library and was immediately drawn in (as noticed by my principal when she walked in). Although it is not a long book, the range of emotions you stumble on while reading is wonderful. Ultimately it is a hopeful book, even throughout the sad moments, and I like the way it ended so simply. A Newbery selection for sure, this Sharon Creech title will make a great classroom read aloud and can lead to interesting discussions about the gray area surrounding right and wrong.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Barbara O'Connor on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Such a sweet and honest story. Creech isn't afraid to add a little sadness and worry to a story - but wrap everything up with such a feeling of satisfaction. A lovely story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Z on November 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My nine-year old granddaughter loved this book. She couldn't put it down and enjoyed it so much she read it in one evening.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dree of Charlotte on January 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Have you ever read 'Anne of Green Gables'? I did, recently, and was amazed by the intense joy in that book, brought out by Anne's incessant, crazy dialogue. I was laughing out loud. It was so sweet, and so meaningful and expertly written. In this book, Sharon Creech set out a similar premise ... inexperienced parents with a sudden new child, except, in this book, the child is silent. An intriguing idea, but so much more difficult to build to greatness.

Sharon Creech's books - all of them are fantastic - are centered on the dialogue of children, inside the mind of children. This one is closest in theme to Ruby Holler, but it is built completely inside the mind of adults. We are locked out of the mind of the child. While I love John and Marta, their adulthood kept them from ever revealing too much, expressing their intense feelings. So in a way were were also locked out of their minds.

The chapters are very short and very little happens, since Jacob cannot talk and he has no friends, except for one play friend, the beagle, a cow, and John and Marta. While Jacob is obviously talented in music and art, we never really learn much about him. That is the premise of the book, and it is limiting.

Still, I appreciated the message, I appreciated how John and Marta grew into fabulous friends of children. The closing chapters were very sweet. But Jacob ... what about Jacob? It remains a mystery.
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