One day, a young couple named Marta and John find a boy asleep in an old chair on their front porch. His arrival is as mysterious as can be. They didn’t hear anyone come down the dirt road to their small farm, and the boy, who looks to be about 6, doesn’t speak. There’s just one clue. Tucked in his pocket is a scribbled note that reads:

Plees taik kair of Jacob. . . . Wil be bak wen we can.”

And so they do. Marta accepts the boy’s presence immediately, while John comes slowly to his new role. “I don’t know about all this,” he admits to his wife the first day, not unlike any new father.

But as the days and weeks unfold, Marta and John discover that although he still doesn’t say a word, Jacob likes jelly beans, loves to drum on any available surface, and is happy to play with their dog, Beagle, and the family cow. Most of all, he is an amazingly eager and accomplished artist, creating whimsical and fantastical scenes, and also a landscape filled with blue trees and red paths and purple animals. Could it be a clue to where he came from?

Although the couple knows that the young boy can never be theirs, when the day comes for him to leave, Marta and John are left with an aching hole to fill. Readers of all ages will be eager to see what they choose to do next, and will wait, as they do, to see if the boy on the porch ever returns.

Sharon Creech’s lovely, lyrical story is accessible to young readers and at the same time will be treasured by adults who know that what our children give us is always far greater than what we provide in return.

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