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Katy, the precocious ten-year-old daughter of the town doctor, befriends a retarded boy.
“Lowry’s latest achievement delivers complexity disguised as simplicity—providing depth through her child–narrator’s eyes.” VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
“Emotionally devastating and infinitely haunting.” Horn Book
“Not since Autumn Street has Lowry written a novel that injects childhood experience so deeply with adult tone.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Lowry excels in developing strong and unique characters.” School Library Journal
“Well-crafted and narrated by a perceptive, large–hearted child.” Kirkus Reviews
My friend Austin Bishop lived next door and was to be invited to my sixth birthday party the next month. Austin was already six and said that he could read. I thought it was true because he showed me a book with a story in it and told me the story--it was about a mouse--and then he told me the story again, and the words were exactly the same. Reading, I knew, was what made the words always, always be the same.
Jessie Wood was to come to my party, too, and had told me a secret, that she was bringing me a tea set with pink flowers as a birthday present. She had promised her mother that she would not tell. A promise was a very important, very grown-up thing, and if I promised not to tell something, I would never ever tell. But Jessie was often naughty. She disobeyed. She told me that the pink flowers were roses and the tea set was real china.
Austin's brother, Paul, was not invited because he was too big. Paul was almost fifteen years old and had his own desk, many pencils, and a book with maps. He had a pocketknife that was very sharp and we were not to touch it, ever. He tried to smoke his father's pipe but he was too young, and it made him sick. We saw him being sick out by the barn. It was yellow and splattered on his shoes.
Austin's father was named Mr. Bishop, and he was a lawyer, but at home he spent a lot of time out in the barn, pounding and sawing. He liked tools and steam engines and wheels and anything that moved its parts and made noise. Sometimes he said he wished he could be a train engineer. During the summer, when Austin's birthday was coming, Mr. Bishop and Paul worked many days out in the barn. It was a secret. No one could peek. They made a lot of noise, and it was a surprise for Austin's birthday.
My mother said, when she saw what they had made, that it was a amazing. I had never seen a amazing before. It had wheels, but it was not a velocipede. Everyone had a velocipede, even me.
I was allowed to ride mine to the mailbox, but then I was always to turn around and come back.
Austin could sit in his amazing. He pushed with his feet on the pedals and he traveled down the walk. I supposed he could go to town in the amazing if he wished. Perhaps he could go to his father's office. Or to the library, or Whittaker's Dry Goods! A amazing could go anywhere.
I hoped that someone was building me a amazing for my birthday, but I didn't think that anyone was because there was no noise coming from the Bishops' barn or from our stable, except the plain old noise of the horses snorting and stamping their feet as Levi cleaned their stalls.
Our horses were named Jed and Dahlia, and they were brown but their manes and tails were black. Our cook was named Naomi, and she was also brown. Everything has a color, I remember thinking. I could not think of a single thing that had no color, except the water in my bath. You could see through water, I realized--could see your own hand when you tried to hold water in it, but then it ran away, right through your fingers, no matter how hard you tried to keep it there.
Austin had one more thing besides the amazing, one more thing that I wished I had. He had a baby sister! She had horrid black hair and cried a lot and her name was Laura Paisley Bishop.
How they got Laura Paisley was very, very interesting to me. Austin's Nana took him on the train to Philadelphia for a whole day. How I wished my grandmother would do that for me! My own Gram lived in Cincinnati and came by train in the summers to visit, but she never took me with her on the train. Austin said it was noisy and clattery and you could look through the windows and see trees go by as fast as anything. Sometimes, when the train was going around a curve, you could look ahead and see the engine and know that you were part of it, still attached. It was hard to imagine.
They rode to Philadelphia and went to a museum, where they saw stuffed creatures, like bears, posing as if they were alive, and then they had lunch in a restaurant, with strawberry ice cream for dessert. Then they went back to the train station and came all the way home on the train again. When they arrived at our town, Austin's Nana used the telephone at the railroad station to call his home and see if anything exciting had happened while they were away.
"My goodness!" she said to Austin, then. "There will be quite a surprise at your house when we get there."
So they walked all the way home from the station, and when they got to Austin's house, he saw the surprise. It was a baby sister!
They had found her out in the garden. That's what they told Austin: that his mother had gone outside to pick some tomatoes for lunch, and when she looked down, she saw a lovely baby girl there.
"Fibber!" I said to Austin.
I did not believe him because I had been playing in my own backyard almost all day, and never once heard a baby, and did not see Mrs. Bishop go out with her tomato basket at all. In fact, my mother had told me to play quietly because Mrs. Bishop had a headache and was lying down most of the day.
So I called Austin a fibber and he was angry and threw some dirt at me and said I could never hold his baby. But I asked my mother later and she said it was true that Mrs. Bishop had found the baby in the garden. Mother said that she hoped someday we would find one in ours.
So I decided I would look carefully each day. But it seemed a very strange thing, that babies appeared in gardens, because it might be raining. Or it might even be winter! I hoped that the babies were bundled up in thick blankets then!
I had to apologize to Austin for calling him a fibber. His big brother, Paul, was there when I did, and Paul laughed and said I shouldn't bother. Paul said I was the smartest child on the street. (It was not true, because I couldn't read yet, no matter how I tried.) But his mother, who was sitting in a rocking chair holding Laura Paisley, said, "Shhhhh," so Paul shushed and went away and slammed the screen door behind him, which startled the baby, so that her eyes opened wide for a second and then closed again.
I hoped her hair would improve because it really was horrid to look at. It was exactly like Jed and Dahlia's manes.
1. Katy is an innocent young girl. During the course of the book, we see certain events and people opening her eyes to the world. How does she react to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster and the San Francisco earthquake (and her mother’s pregnancy)?
2. What events or people opened your eyes to the world when you were a young child? Was there a moment or an incident that changed your perspective forever? How did it change?
3. What are the various terms and euphemisms people use to refer to Jacob and his condition (for example, touched)? Why do different people use different words to describe him?
4. What do you think of when you hear the word asylum? How do you think attitudes toward people with a mental disorder have changed–or have they remained the same?–since Katy’s time? How would Jacob be treated today?
5. Like any child, Katy must sort out fact from fiction as she grows up. What do different people tell her about childbirth and birthmarks, for example? Did you ever believe something that now seems silly? Did you ever tell someone something false about the world that that person then believed?
6. Look back at the discussion Katy and her father have about Jacob and his hat (p. 134). What other “irrational” things do people do to make themselves feel protected or lucky? Do you have any habits or any things you are attached to that make you feel safe?
7. A photograph appears at the beginning of each chapter of this book–did you like that? How did it change your experience of reading the book? Why do you think the author chose to include photographs?
8. “I decided I could do it all, and would. I would go to college. Then I would become a doctor and would marry Austin Bishop and have children” (p. 119).
Katy wants to defy the stereotypes of her gender. What do you think it would have been like to be a woman in the early 1900s? How have things changed for women since then? Do women still face a different set of expectations and opportunities than men do?
9. If you were in Katy’s place, what would you learn from what happens to Jacob? Look back at the prologue. Why do you think Katy, as an old woman, still feels the need to tell this story?
10. Have you ever had to stand by while something you knew was wrong took place? Are some things just the way they have to be, or is there always a chance to fight for what you know is right?
Posted March 16, 2009
The Silent Boy
This very odd story of a young girl addresses stereotypes, difficulties disabled people have, and much more. The Silent Boy tells a story about a young girl, Katy, who one day encounters a very mysterious retarded boy. Her and her father are going to pick up their new "hired girl" when Katy notices a faded figure of a boy in the window. Their hired girl, Peggy, explains to Katy that he is her retarded brother. Katy and her father encounter him many times in the future when traveling to the countryside to take care of various things. The boy, Jacob Stoltz, is very silent, and makes motions in a way to communicate that Katy begins understand just like she's family. He does very mysterious things such as slip away to odd places with no one watching. He barely speaks, has an extraordinary love for animals and appears to be very odd to Katy. Although she feels that this boy is very distant and strange, she feels some kind of connection to him. Katy understands Jacob's bravery in his actions. This touching story reveals the meaning in a distant connection and friendship. This book is very moving and interesting. It is a must read for people who love mysterious, well written novels that make one curious at every moment.
Reviewed By: Tano Anonymously
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Posted September 1, 2010
The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry was a good rainy day book. It kept me turning pages with its creepy, eerie, mysterious feel. I gave it three stars although the story line was good, it was a very forgettable book. The story starts when Katy Thatcher's family, the Thatcher, family gets a new hired girl. When this girl comes and starts working for the family things start to change and Katy notices the changes when her dad takes her out to the mill and the meet a boy named Jacob who does not talk. Then later in the book problems surface and Austin's family's hired girl leaves and Jacob is caught in the middle. Although the book had a decent plot line some of the details were confusing. Some of the detail even had no relation to the book. This is a book that will leave you wondering. This is a book that will keep you from being board. If you like Lois Lowry you should read this book, but I will warn you it is not like the Giver. Overall it is a very good book. I would read it again, but some and some of the detail might make since to me.
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Posted January 13, 2009
¿The Silent Boy¿ By Lois Lowry<BR/>¿His is the story I mean to write¿¿The Silent Boy, written by Lois Lowry, really caught my eyes, I thought this book would keep me on my toes throughout every page I turned but I was wrong. There were cretin parts of the book that did pull me into the book but if you ask me the book was extremely slow.<BR/>I was expecting the book to be centered on ¿the silent boy¿, Jacob but the protagonist was Katy Thatcher. This book is in the point of view of a six year old girl who is seven years old by the end of the book. Her father is a doctor and Katy loves going in her dads buggy as he goes to treat patients, she meets a boy who keeps all to himself and<BR/> never talks named Jacob Stoltz. Katy and Jacob have a friendship like <BR/>no other but when one thing goes wrong it¿s the last time Katy will <BR/>ever see Jacob again. <BR/>I honestly did not like this book, it would be better if it talked more about The Silent Boy himself. Maybe my expectations of this book were to big, but I would not recommend this book to anyone who likes to be on their toes throughout the whole book. <BR/><BR/>Yesenia Torres<BR/>Battle Creek, MI
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Posted December 7, 2004
I loved this book. At first when I began to read it, I felt it was going to be slow, but instead the pace quickened and I found myself always anticipating the next page. I think this book will join the ranks among Lowry's other hits such as The Messenger, The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Number the Stars. Just like those books, this one is simply titled, yet profound in meaning.
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Posted August 28, 2014
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Posted October 26, 2012
Posted August 10, 2012
i read this book and it is GREAT even though at the end everyboby thinks that he mudered someone but he didnt he wanted to save him but i think that you should try this book it is one of my favoritesWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 1, 2012
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Posted December 28, 2010
Not only is this a beautiful story and tragic ending but it is written through the innocence of a little girl. Now I know that some people may go 'little girl, ugh'. I know, I am not crazy about stories told through the eyes if little kids either but believe this random person who is telling you THIS BOOK IS BEAUTIFUL!!! The style is great and is a good historical fiction. Perfect book to read because its nice and simple. Get it :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2008
Out of many books I have read from Lois Lowry I loved this book. This book showed detail about everything and mostof all it had a very sad but also happy. I think that if Jacob really did just run away after the Asylum was gone he really made a good choice. I still wonder where he went. I also wonder if someone really saw nell in a factory. The saddest part was when Paul died.This is really a great book. I recomend this to everyone out there.
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Posted June 1, 2008
When I read The Silent Boy I was hoping for it to be more centered on Jacob(the silent boy). I wanted it to explain all about why he was different and how he was treated. I did not fully enjoy this book because of my high expectations. Also, the book was easy to read. Probably better for a 10 or 11 year old girl. If you are new to this Author, I would not recommond this as your first book to read. I think you would rather enjoy The Giver. I read it last year and I loved it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 22, 2008
In this story, The Silent Boy, by Lois Lowry, it reflects back to a relationship between Katharine Thatcher and Jacob Stoltz, and the incident that changes their lives. Katharine is an eight year old girl who wants to become a doctor like her father, and is very interested in people. She meets a boy name Jacob, who does not talk at all. Only Katharine befriends him and understands his mind. One day she hears that Jacob has disappeared after doing something very wrong to his sister¿s baby. Katharine wants to help her friend, Jacob avoid getting in trouble. It is up to her to reach the truth in time! It is very cruel and unjust how Jacob is treated so unfairly by the people around him, even by his own family. People often call him imbecile and they isolate him from the world. When there is a fire at Schuyler¿s Mill, they all blame Jacob that he burned Schuler¿s Mill. His father rejects him and sometimes talks to him sternly. Compared to others, it is really interesting how Katharine seems so caring from the moment she meets Jacob. Unlike other people, she treats him as a friend and trusts him. She talks to him even though he does not respond back to her. She gives him a present and calls him a friend. He begins to accept and trust Katharine as his good friend. Only Katharine understands Jacob and knows the real reason what he did to the baby. This incident influences her later life in helping her to be compassionate and understanding people. It is really a delight if the next reader finds the same thrill, in the inspirational story of The Silent Boy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 27, 2008
The book I am reviewing is called The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry. It is a story about a young girl named Katy and her reaction to her life in the 1900s. The main conflict of this story is the relationship between Katy and the silent boy named Jacob. Katy learns how to understand Jacob¿s silent ways. She finds it fascinating that he can imitate any sound he hears. Another conflict is when Jacob¿s two sisters, one of them, named Peggy, comes to work at Katy¿s house, and the other sister, Nell, works for Katy¿s neighbor, Austin. Nell and Austin¿s older brother, Paul fall in love, Nell becomes pregnant and she is far too young to have a baby at her age. At the time, being pregnant while not being married is a big scandal. The rest of the story deals with how Jacob reacts to the baby. Something that I liked about this book was how the story was told by Katy. The chapters were like diary entries and she explained clearly what the time period of the early 1900s was like. She described how the houses were, how cold it was, how it was to have a telephone for the first time, and her neighbors new automobile. The one thing that I disliked about the book was that the author never talked much about the relationship between Jacob and his father. Another quality in this book that I liked was that at the beginning of each chapter, there was a black-and-white picture that seemed to tell you what the chapter you are about to read would be about. Also, I liked how the author seemed to have updates on the main characters after the story was told. I like the author¿s writing style in this book and I think if you would read this then you would enjoy it as much as I did.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 4, 2007
By: Lois Lowry The main character in this book is Jacob Stoltz `The silent boy¿. Jacob does not talk or learn like others do, but he loves animals. Katy is Jacob¿s neighbor and they became friends. Katy¿s Dad is a doctor that has his office next to their house. Katy wants to be a doctor like her Dad and she becomes one later in life. Peggy was Katy¿s family nanny and Jacob¿s sister. Jacob lives next door to Katy¿s family & helps the family by working with their horses. He does not go to school like the other kids. Peggy¿s sister Nellie had a baby when she was really young. Nellie was confused about motherhood and left the baby alone. No one in Jacob¿s family wanted the baby, so he took the baby to Katy¿s mom but the cold had killed the baby before he had got there. The court had decided to put Jacob in an asylum for the rest of his life when he was only 14. Jacob did not know he was doing anything wrong. Katy never saw Jacob Stoltz again. . The setting is between 1908 to 1911 in an old farm town. Katy is telling the story to her great -grandchildren later in life The story is mostly about a boy named Jacob that is kind of slow and does not talk. He was a nice boy that loved animals. No one understood him except Katy. I liked the story because I like books about people¿s lives whether they are real or not. I connect to the book because I used to not be able to talk because of my speech. I can connect to his world because I know how frustrating it is when no one understands you. I have never read a book like this before.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2007
Katy and Jacob were friends but Jacob could not talk. Katy was interested in her Dad's work. Jacob took care of farm animals. The friendship Katy made with Jacob was very special. Jacob could not talk, but Jacob could make sounds. When Jacob and Katy played they would sing to the animals. Katy could understand Jacob by the way he acted with the animals. One day Jacob made a big mistake. A baby was born and the mother did not want to take care of it. So Jacob took the baby to the barn because he thought the animals would take of the baby. Because the baby was cold and not fed so it died and Jacob was taken away. The setting of this book is from 1908 to 1911 in San Francisco. This book is about Katy's life experience with family, neighbors and the friendship with Jacob. I really did not like this story because it bored me. Maybe this would be a good story for a girl. I can relate to this book because I also have family member that is unable to talk. Because of the time I have spent with him I can understand what he is telling me sometimes by his hand movements. I cannot relate this to any other books I have read. This book can relate to many people around the world because we all have friends, neighbors and family.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 19, 2007
Posted May 5, 2007
The story starts in 1987 when Katy Thatcher is an old lady, with great-grand children. She is reminiscing on her childhood and the boy she met who, without saying a word and without even looking at her, changed her life. She has a flashback to late 1910, when Dr. Thatcher, Katy's father, is preparing for a baby around the house and has a hired girl come out to work inside the house. Katy first sees Jacob here, but doesn't understand why he doesn't speak or go to school. The hired girl, his sister, explains that he is 'touched in the head.' Now we would call this a form of autism. Later that year Katy sees one of her mother's clothes catalogues and sees a picture of maternity dresses. The hired girl, Peggy, explains that maternity is when women are pregnant. Katy has 'the talk' from her father. Katy also learns that Jacob has the job of drowning the unwanted newborn kittens, but wouldn't harm anything in the world if he could help it. Katy finds Jacob with her horses one night. She realizes he has a way with animals. In 1911 Katy sees how Nellie, Peggy's sister, and Paul, Austin's brother like each other. At first she think's it's cute but then she is scared of them when they get mad at her for accidentally walking in on them while they were having 'alone time.' A few months later Katy has a birthday party. She wants Jacob to come but he isn¿t allowed to be there. Katy still mentions to him she would have enjoyed him there. Out of their sort of friendship he gives you a newborn kitten. Katy also learns her mom gave birth to a sister, who is unnamed for a while. Life goes by normally until a rainy night when Jacob is missing. Katy sees something happening in the baby¿s room but she¿s not allowed to see. Also, Nellie can¿t be found either. When Katy is coming downstairs she sees into the baby¿s room and understands what happened. She goes and sees Jacob in the barn. She tells him she knows what happened: How Nellie had a baby and didn¿t want it so she left. Nobody else wanted it in her family so Jacob tried to save it by taking it to Katy¿s mom but the cold killed the baby. Dr. Thatcher takes Jacob to court and they put him in the asylum. Katy never sees him again. This story is one of friendship and how it doesn¿t have anything to do with words. Friends don¿t have to speak, just understand, like Jacob and Katy. Lois Lowry shows in a great way how remarkable things can happen if we just listen past words.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 22, 2006
I think ¿The Silent Boy¿ by Lois Lowry is interesting because it is filled with facts from the past. It takes place in rural Pennsylvania during the years 1908 through 1911, and mentions the earthquake that destroyed San Francisco in 1906 and the horrible fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company that took so many lives in New York City in 1911. The book is about a special needs 14-year old boy who lives on a farm. He is good with animals, but he does not talk. He is shy and quiet he lives in his own world. Other people sometimes take advantage of him because he has special needs. His name is Jacob. Jacob makes a special friend with Katy Thatcher. ¿The Silent Boy¿ is told from Katy¿s perspective. Katy is a young daughter of a doctor, who gets to know Jacob when his sister comes to work for her family. Katy likes Jacob immediately and slowly becomes his friend. Jacob gives her one of the most special gifts she ever receives. There are twists and turns in the story and a huge problem divides the families. When the climax is reached, there is no one for Jacob to turn to but Katy. Katy knows what happened, but can she help? Will Jacob be accused for what has accidentally been done? Read this interesting book to find out!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.