Sitting under a tree on a sunny August afternoon as my husband explores Day 2 of the battle of Gettysburg, there is a blue haze on the low rise of mountains off in the distance and a field stretching out before me with monuments standing guard along the roadsides. There is a timelessness to Gettysburg as though it's a portal where you stand with one foot in 1863 and one foot in 2013.
This timelessness and the rush and fade of tourists in RVs and cars is where I opened to the first page of this amazing story.
A young couple discovers a boy clad in rough linen sleeping quite soundly on the cushions of their front porch. The wife, Marta, is sensitive, vulnerable and doesn't want to appear silly in front of her husband, John. John is hopeful, cautious, solid, reliable and kind. They have no children of their own.
Where did this boy come from? No one has any answers. He comes with a note filled with misspelled words and scratch outs asking them to care for the boy until the author can return. One line of this letter says, "He is a god good boy." God is scratched through.
What an awesome reponsibility has been placed upon them. Tenderly Marta holds the boy in her arms. Cautiously John seeks the right thing to do in the situation that has been thrust upon them. Should they tell the sheriff? Is someone missing a boy?
In the first chapter, when the boy arrives, there is a distinct feeling that he is more than just an ordinary boy. There is a big question here. Is he from around here? Does he have a family somewhere in the neighborhood? Does God really live here?
This story will be read by many young readers who will be enchanted with the fact that this boy does not speak but he can be understood. They will be delighted by his brilliant gifts. They will find reassurance in his contentment. They'll take the story in at the surface and it will deliver.
But those readers who open themselves to what lies between the lines and to what is being given to us here, will find this book to be extraordinary. It holds a powerful, universal message that is not delivered through each word but instead comes through its spirit.
There are authors who write for the earthbound and there are authors who write to the part of us that comes from another place... the place where we are truly born. Sharon Creech writes to that other part of us.. our true self... and she has reached an entirely new understanding and shared it with us through this beautiful, priceless gem of a story.
Ages 8-12 151 pages 978-0061892356
Recommended by: Barb
Instructor, San Jose State University
School of Library and Information Science http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/