"The young couple found the child asleep in an old cushioned chair on the front porch. He was curled against a worn pillow, his feet bare and dusty, his clothes fashioned from rough linen. They could not imagine where he had come from or how he had made his way to their small farmhouse on a dirt road far from town."
Take a close look at these opening sentences from The boy on the porch - a masterpiece of storytelling from one of my most favourite authors - Sharon Creech.
In this short paragraph the reader can discover so many things - some explicitly stated others implied. This couple have no children of their own perhaps, this boy comes from far away and he is poor as are the young couple who are eking out a living on this remote farm. They may be poor but there is love and comfort in their home. On the other side this paragraph there are so many questions. Who is this young boy? Where has he come from? What might happen when he wakes up? How will the young couple react? Will his family every be found? Does he even have a family? What has happened in this past to this child?
This is another one of those wonderful books that I devoured in one sitting. In 150 pages you will go on an emotional journey where some of the questions I have listed will be answered while others will remain a mystery. I selected this book as my 600th review because I enjoyed it so much. I am looking forward to putting this special book into the hands of a sensitive mature reader.
Marta and John are not sure what to do. They wait until the boy awakes only to discover he cannot speak. There is a note :
Plees taik kair of Jacob
He is a
god good boy.
We will be bak wen we can.
This note gives the child a name but it also raises more questions and anxieties. When will these people return? Who are they? Why have they abandoned their child? Should John and Marta tell the authorities?
"When no one came for the boy by nightfall, John and Martha fashioned a small bed beside their own. Marta fashioned a small bed beside their own. Marta offered the boy one of John's softest shirts to sleep in and set out a basin of warm water and soap for him to wash with. She tucked him into the bed, patted his arm and hummed a few bars of an old, half-forgotten lullaby, softly, for she was embarrassed that John might hear her and think her foolish. As she stood to go, the boy reached up and tapped her arm five or six times, in that funny way he did, always tapping lightly on surfaces ... his touch startled her, and she nearly wept, so grateful was she for the gesture."
On Sharon's web site you can read about the inspiration for this story, you can hear the author read the first chapter and you can click on a sample of the text to read it yourself. I recommend you do all these things now! Here is a video of Sharon reading the book so you can even see what she looks like.
This book reminded me of The Stranger by Chris van Allsburg and Ruby Holler also by Sharon Creech.