The Silent Boy

The Silent Boy

by Lois Lowry


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544935228
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 06/06/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,207,961
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 10 - 12 Years

About the Author

Whether she’s writing comedy, adventure, or poignant, powerful drama—from Attaboy, Sam! and Anastasia Krupnik to Number the Stars and The GiverLois Lowry’s appeal is as broad as her subject matter and as deep as her desire to affect an eager generation of readers. An author who is “fast becoming the Beverly Cleary for the upper middle grades” (The Horn Book Magazine), Lois Lowry has written more than 20 books for young adults and is a two-time Newbery Medal winner.Lowry was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and attended junior high school in Tokyo, Japan. Her father was a dentist for the U.S. Army and his job entailed a lot of traveling. She still likes to travel.At the age of 17, Lowry attended Brown University and majored in writing. She left school at 19, got married, and had four children before her 25th birthday. After some time, she returned to college and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Maine.Lowry didn’t start writing professionally until she was in her mid-30s. Now she spends time writing every single day. Before she begins a book, she usually knows the beginning and end of her story. When she’s not writing, Lowry enjoys gardening during the spring and summer and knitting during the winter. One of her other hobbies is photography, and her own photos grace the covers of Number the Stars, The Giver, and Gathering Blue. Lois Lowry has four children and two grandchildren. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt


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.

From the Paperback edition.

Reading Group Guide

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?

Customer Reviews

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The Silent Boy 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
DallasFabulously More than 1 year ago
The Silent Boy Book Review 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
pancakeonator More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
blessingsfive on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The young daughter of a doctor is taught compassion for those who are "different" and finds herself learning to understand the boy who doesn't speak and what he tries to do to help when his sister has an unwanted baby.
eduscapes on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Using historical photographs as inspiration for fictional settings and characters, Lois Lowry transports us to the early 1900s. As a fan of historical photos and historical fiction, I found her approach very appealing. It made me want to go through old photos and do some creative writing!
ElizaJane on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is a fictional memoir of an elderly woman who tells the story of her Pre World War I childhood and in particular her relationship with a boy who was "touched". We are never told what was wrong with the boy (I think in a effort to not apply modern day labels) but from the symptoms I came to believe he was autistic. This is a deceptively simple story. It is a sweet, quaint, nostalgic look at a time when telephones and cars were very new. Every chapter is illustrated with a photograph of the period which adds to the nostalgia. Slowly, as events unfold we become aware that something is not right and the ending is terribly tragic. In fact, we are warned on the opening page that this is a sad story, yet that warning slipped away from me as I was immersed in the simple lives of the characters. This is a book that you stagger away from and makes you think how something so awfully sad and tragic could happen.This book was filed in the children's section of my library, and it is a short, easy read but I think the full force of the story would be much more appreciated by a YA.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a story worth reading. It is about those beautiful days gone by when families were the center of everyone’s world. So simple and quiet and important. Reminds us what we have lost a little of in these days full of technology, yet also shows us what we have gained in empathy and respect for those special people who live among us. I prefer to believe that they couldn’t find Jacob’s name in the records because he escaped and spent all his days wandering!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is it ok 4 a 10 year old?!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book, but poor little boy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an okay book it was a quick read
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In love with it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 favorites
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Mark Beliveau More than 1 year ago
Cute and sad. Love how she opened a chapter with an antique picture. Love her details.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michael Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
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 :)
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3torrey More than 1 year ago
¿The Silent Boy¿ By Lois Lowry
¿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.
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
never talks named Jacob Stoltz. Katy and Jacob have a friendship like
no other but when one thing goes wrong it¿s the last time Katy will
ever see Jacob again.
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.

Yesenia Torres
Battle Creek, MI