“The young couple found the child asleep in an old cushioned chair on the front porch.”
When John and Mary find a six year old boy asleep on their front porch, they are naturally curious to know who he is and where he came from. But the boy doesn’t talk. He does hear, and he draws and paints beautiful pictures, and he plays wonderful music. But he says not one word.
The Boy on the Porch is an odd sort of book. I can see it being the kind of book that an adopted child or a foster child might latch onto and love. Newbery Medal and Carnegie award winning author Sharon Creech (she’s the first author to win both the British and the American awards for children’s literature) writes of her inspiration for the novel:
“I discovered that the boy, who does not speak, is like all characters that do not have a voice until a writer is ready to listen to them; and he is like so many children who do not have a â€˜voiceâ€™ in this world; and he is like all children who come into our lives: when they arriveâ€”at any ageâ€”we wonder who they are and what they think and fear and feel and who they will become.”
So the theme is children without voices, both literally and metaphorically, and the adults who love those children who in turn need someone to see and hear their unique beauty. John and Mary are the stand-ins for all of the many, many adults who foster and adopt and care for children who are abandoned and in need of a caring family. The style is almost hypnotic: you can read or listen to a sample here. It’s a short book, 151 pages. It’s not a verse novel, but it almost has a poetic feel to it. It’s also not fantasy, but the boy who is found on the porch, Jacob, is a fantastic magical realism kind of character. He paints and makes music with abilities way beyond his years, but he never speaks and later in the book, he simply disappears.
This book tells a story that would be just right matched with just the right reader(s). However, they’re probably going to have to find it serendipitously because it’s going to be a hard one to sell—or to peg the right child to sell it to.