Jon and Marta find a young, strangely-clad boy sleeping on their front porch. They wait for someone to show up to claim him, but the note they find in his pocket lets them know they that will be keeping him for some anonymous parent for a while. They soon realize that Jacob does not speak, although he taps on everything and seems to hear them perfectly well. He is a sweet boy, and they soon grow attached to him. Jon finds himself buying Jacob instruments, all of which he eagerly learns to play, and Marta buys him paints and lets him paint all over the barn walls. Jon half-heartedly asks about a missing boy at the sheriff’s office, but the young couple soon realize that they’d rather not let anyone else know about Jacob for as long as they can.
Along with the soundless beagle that showed up one day and the cow that they found tied to their fence, Jon and Marta seem to have wonderful gifts arriving on their doorstep all the time. Jacob is certainly the greatest of all, but they know in their hearts that boys don’t just materialize from thin air, and they dread the day that Jacob has to leave.
The Boy on the Porch is a sweet story from an accomplished author, Sharon Creech, Newbery Medal-winning author of Walk Two Moons, the moving Love That Dog, and many other worthy titles. Although it is well-written and comes in at just 151 pages, there is one big reason that I do not think that it should win the Newbery Medal: It’s just not a children’s book. The main characters are adults, and the reader learns all about Jon and Marta’s thoughts and feelings, but not Jacob’s. In the end, this married couple learns to share their love and fill their childless arms, but this is not a concern that children have. This is a touching, positive short novel—for adults.
Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. All opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.