A childless couple, John and Marta, finds a boy asleep on the porch of their farmhouse one day. They haven't seen him around before. They don't know who left him with them or why. All they have is that scraggly note.
There's nothing they can do but take the boy, Jacob, in. (Not that they aren't secretly happy to.)
The boy doesn't talk. He taps. Tap tap tap. Tap-tap, tap-tap. It takes Marta a while to figure out that's how he communicates. John trades in his belts and hat at the store so Jacob has paints and a drum set. Marta checks on him when he goes to bed every night.
Jacob rides the cow and forms a deep friendship with the couple's beagle. Funny thing being, all three of them didn't belong to John and Marta. They have each "found" their way to them, like children finding their way to parents.
Together they make up a warm, happy family. The boy arrives on their porch along with many questions, but there's one in particular that constantly haunt John and Marta, one they dread and fear:
Those people who left Jacob with them, when are they coming to claim him?
There are two Sharon Creech stories I hold dearly (which I must have mentioned to shreds on this blog) : Heartbeat and Walk Two Moons. It's not surprising that whenever I read another of her novel, I compare it to what those two have given me.
The Boy on the Porch is a touching story about parenting and unexpected connections. It is sweet and, naturally, a little sad ~ just the type for me. I wish there was a wee bit more flavour in the narrative. Just a bit more. Like a pot of soup I would have preferred to be left brewing for a while more. Still, I'm very glad I picked this up from the library. Sometimes strangers who become family remain closer than real families do.
Have you read this book?
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"Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins."
Salamanca Tree Hiddle, 13, went on a road trip with her grandparents from Ohio to Idaho to trace the path her mother took when she left them over a year ago. Hurry, hurry, rush, rush. Sal hoped to reach Idaho on her mother's birthday and bring her home. Along the way, to calm her nerves and to entertain her grandparents, Sal told them stories about Phoebe Winterbottom,
"a girl who had a powerful imagination, who would become my friend, and who would have many peculiar things happen to her."
And peculiar they were. First there were the mysterious notes on Phoebe's doorsteps, then the appearance of the lunatic, and the case of her missing mother. Phoebe was certain her red-haired neighbour had something to do with her mother's disappearance. The worst thing was, that red-haired neighbour and Sal's father were getting closer, closer, and closer every day. (In fact, she was part of the reason why they had moved to Ohio.)
As Sal told Phoebe's story, the truth about her own missing mother was also revealed layer by layer, and unforeseen danger threatened the journey she was on with her grandparents.
Walk Two Moons is about going away on literal and metaphorical journeys to look for someone, to walk in her shoes, to try to understand her sorrows and need to leave, to bring her back in the way you could bring yourself back, and to leave her there just as you could leave the past in the past and move on with it. It is about being sad. It is about acceptance, discovery, young love, fear, holding on, letting go, wild imagination, and honest recollections.
It's always easy to judge a person, and not easy at all to walk in their moccasins, huh?
Updates on the short story I've been reworking: it was written, revised and submitted to a contest. A load off my chest! And the critique for a fellow-writer's manuscript is done, too. Moving on to other writing/publishing work and teaching. What have you been up to, my lovelies?
Last week, I asked "Why would so much depend upon a red wheelbarrow?" and this week, I found a boy-protagonist echoing me.
"What do you mean --
Why does so much depend
a blue car?
You didn't say before
that I had to tell why.
The wheelbarrow guy
didn't tell why."
Meet Jack, who tells his story through free-spirited verses he writes (reluctantly at first) based on the classics his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, shares in class. Like me, Jack doesn't 'get' poetry at first but gradually learns to enjoy the pictures formed in his head.
What kind of protagonist is Jack?
He doesn't mince his words about how he thinks boys don't write poetry, and about the line spacing his teacher ought to use.
He is often unsure of himself and asks to remain anonymous whenever Miss Stretchberry requests to post his writings on the class board.
He is a little sad though he doesn't tell us that, or why. Readers would find out, of course, towards the end. Still, he never betrays a sliver of self-pity.
This is a great story to be shared in class, for children reading poetry and for those who love dogs. Yeah, Jack's good ol' yellow dog.
Jack is very fortunate to have a caring and encouraging teacher like Miss Stretchberry, who bakes delicious brownies for the class. (What luck!) Have you ever had such a Miss Stretchberry in your school-life?
I know not everyone enjoys novels written in verse. I'm a huge fan and have come across several outstanding middle-grade stories written in this fashion, with down-to-earth and honest narrative voices, quietly bright tones, and refreshing line-break choices. Perhaps it has to do with my difficulty in reading long prose when I was 9-12. This sort of writing would have helped me tremendously back then, so I'm glad it is now an option for young readers.
Love That Dog is followed by Hate That Cat. If you've enjoyed Jack in this one, remember to pick up the latter, too.
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Hey, I'm Claudine. Welcome!
Want to know what children's stories can inspire & lead to?
by Kate Hanney
Really enjoyed the honest voice of this narrator ~ a teenager let down by his mother and the foster care system, and almost-picked up through his involvement with a gang.