Small as an Elephant

( 29 )

Overview

Ever since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times "spinning," caught in a whirlwind of energy. But he never thought he'd be left alone in a campground in Acadia National Park. Any other kid would report his mom gone, but Jack knows by now that he needs to figure things out for himself — starting with how to get from the backwoods of Maine to his home in Boston before DSS realizes what's happened. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack ...
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Small as an Elephant

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Overview

Ever since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times "spinning," caught in a whirlwind of energy. But he never thought he'd be left alone in a campground in Acadia National Park. Any other kid would report his mom gone, but Jack knows by now that he needs to figure things out for himself — starting with how to get from the backwoods of Maine to his home in Boston before DSS realizes what's happened. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins the long journey south, a "missing boy" just a sighting away from being caught. Part gripping adventure story, part unfolding mystery, part sensitive portrayal of a fiercely self-reliant boy, this tale of survival traces a journey that tests a boy's wits and his loyalties — and his trust that he may be part of a larger herd after all.
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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Suanne B. Roush
Jack Martell has led an emotionally unsettled life thanks to his mother who swings from loving and caring to neglectful. More than once, he has been left alone when his mother has disappeared. He has been warned not to tell anyone because he will be given to his grandmother who is "evil" and wants to take him from her. The one constant in his life are elephants; he has always been obsessed by them. For years his mother fed this obsession, but when Jack angers her on the way to Mount Desert Island, Maine, by asking to go see Lydia, the only elephant in the state, his mother disappears during their first night camping in Acadia National Park, leaving Jack with only his sleeping bag, backpack, and about $15. Jack tries to call his mother but only gets her voicemail. After his phone gets ruined, and he realizes that he will not be able to stay in the park, Jack packs his sleeping bag, the clothes he can fit into his backpack, and starts looking for his mother. For a boy who has been left to fend for himself before, Jack makes some jarringly childish decisions; his journey strains credulity with a too-pat ending, bringing the elephant theme full circle. Students interested in Maine or elephants may like the book, but it is not a title that will fly off the shelves. Reviewer: Suanne B. Roush
ALAN Review - Barbara A. Ward
When his mother disappears during a camping trip to Acadia National Park, Jack Martel must rely on his own survival instincts, since he fears seeking help from the authorities. He believes his mother will be right back, and if worse comes to worst, there's no way he can risk her being charged with abandonment, which is likely to happen if the authorities realize he's on his own. While it hasn't been easy, life with his mother is exciting, especially during her exuberant periods. But the ups are always followed by periods of malaise and depression, and Jack has learned to carefully hide his family's secrets. After his food and money run out, he decides to make his way home to Boston. Readers will root for him to arrive safely, helped along the way by the kindly strangers who befriend him. Especially poignant is his love for elephant-related trivia and totems. Reviewer: Barbara A. Ward
Kirkus Reviews

Eleven-year-old Jack is older than his years; he has to be. His mother, suffering from an unnamed mental disorder, has left him behind again. This time he is in a campground on Mount Desert Island in Maine, far from his Boston home. When he wakes up, there is no sign of his mother—no rental car, camping gear or food.Jack only has his cell phone (which his mother is not answering), $14, a tent and his love of elephants—a near-obsession that gives structure to his otherwise chaotic life. Because Jack is used to his mother's manic behavior, he quickly goes into survival mode, figuring out ways to get food and coming up with plans to get home to Boston while evading curious adults. Jack's mother has told him what will happen if he gets turned into the authorities: He will be put into foster care or, worse, sent to live with his maternal grandmother. While there are moments when Jack's journey relies on coincidence, and his ability to elude intervention stretches credibility slightly, Jacobson masterfully puts readers into Jack's mind—he loves and understands his mother, but sometimes his judgments are not always good, and readers understand. His love and knowledge of elephants both sustains him and pleasingly shapes the story arc. Jack's journey to a new kind of family is inspiring and never sappy.(Fiction. 10-14)

From the Publisher
"I believe in Jack and his ability to understand his mother in shades of gray. I believe in his ability to be fiercely independent: to try and try and try . . . and at the same time to recognize that he needs others. That others are right there, waiting to catch him."
- Jennifer Richard Jacobson — Quote
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Jack, 11, has a bit of an obsession with elephants. The day after he and his mother argue about whether or not they could stop to see an elephant named Lydia at an animal park in York, ME, as part of their vacation, Jack wakes up in his tent at a campground in Acadia National Park to find his Mom, her gear, and her car are gone. Jack is worried, but not totally surprised, as readers learn that this also happened when he was seven. That incident resulted in Jack being placed temporarily with his grandmother, whom his mother always warned him against. So to avoid a repeat of that fate, Jack goes on the lam, stealing an elephant figurine from a gift shop and vegetables from a garden, and arousing suspicion at the library in Bar Harbor. Reminiscent in plot, tone, and quality of Paula Fox's well-regarded Monkey Island (Orchard, 1991), the story certainly provides enough gritty details to make it clear that Jack is lucky to get along as well as he does, but avoids the worst predations that children alone in the world might confront. In the end Jack learns important lessons about his familial relationships and understands that his mother's unresolved mental health issues need not prevent him from moving forward with confidence.—Joel Shoemaker, formerly at South East Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763641559
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 3/8/2011
  • Pages: 275
  • Sales rank: 560,683
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Richard Jacobson is the author of several books for children and young adult readers, including the Andy Shane early chapter books, illustrated by Abby Carter. She lives in Cumberland, Maine.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2011

    Very good- hard to put down!

    I just finished reading this book, and to be honest, it was amazing! It is about an 11-year-old boy named Jack who is obsessed with elephants. Jack and his mom have traveled all the way up to Maine from their hometown in Massachusetts. When Jack wakes up in his tent the next morning, all traces of his mom are gone. Her car is gone, her tent is gone, the pots she left on the picnic table are gone. Now Jack must try to find his mother, while hiding from the police who are frantically looking for him. I found this book appropiate for teenagers, since I am one myself. I learned that when your parent goes missing, you can't start wandering and not tell and adult, unless you would like to work on your survival skills (haha). I would recommend this book to anyone who wants an adventure book, along with some elephant facts:)

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A thoughtful, emotional read

    Eleven-year-old Jack is left alone in a tent in Acadia National Park, Maine by his mother, who struggles with mental health issues. For years, Jack has protected her, not wanting to be turned over to state authorities and then to his grandmother. He realizes this is yet another time when his mother is "spinning" and vows to either find her or make his way home to Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts. He has been fascinated with elephants for years; he steals a small plastic elephant which reminds him of the stories and facts his mother has told him about the creatures. A live elephant in Maine figures into the story as well. The author writes in such a way that the reader will be afraid for Jack, afraid of the dangers of traveling by himself, afraid of being taken from his mother again, afraid that he and his mother might go to jail. We root for Jack over and over, to find his mom and the elephant, to not get caught by the police, to have his broken finger heal. This is a delightful book which might serve as a springboard to other books about teens on their own (sometimes called survival stories), such as books by Will Hobbs and Gary Paulsen.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2013

    As Small As An Elephant was a great book

    It was a sad book about a boy whose mother left him at a campground because of an argument they had. The boy sets out to find his mother and.....an elephant.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    Aweslme book!!!

    This book was so great!!! Totally recomended!!! It reminded me so much of the book the dogs of winter. Both are great books and anybody should read them.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Anonymous

    I justbstarted this book and i cannot put it down. I tell myself im gonna read a few pages and end up reading fifty!! I highly reccomend this book! :)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    This is a very fun-filled book that you will never know what will happen next. It is a daring adventure of a boy just trying to find his mom when she ran away while camping!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2013

    Nice

    Kool book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2013

    Im also a gradma

    verry amazing book lots of sad parts but the end was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooolooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooiiooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooopooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo sorry if theres some letters that arent soposto be there my grand children typed the o s for me i asked them to put one but this book deserved all the os

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2012

    Maddog

    This book is one of the favorites at my school and i can hardly get my hands on it! Good thing i can just buy it!!,!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Good read!

    I found the book interesting. The boys love for an elephant and also wanting to find his mom kept me wanting to read to the end. It's great young adult book; one I would recommend to others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2014

    Amazing

    I love how you can just picture ot in ypur mind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2014

    Elephant

    Elephant

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2014

    Yay

    Stuff is good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2012

    Great

    This book is great book i love it:)

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  • Posted July 23, 2012

    I am not a teen...I'm a grandma who came upon this book at a thr

    I am not a teen...I'm a grandma who came upon this book at a thrift store and I thought it sounded interesting. Not only was the story a very good one, but I learned lots of facts about elephants that I never knew. Was hoping from page one that this young boy would place his trust in someone on his journey, and I was glad that he had the small elephant to be by his side.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2012

    AWESOME BOOK!!!

    This book should be in a series called big as a mouse!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    Small as an elephant

    Goood booook

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Lend me!

    Any one want to lend me.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    :')

    Very good read

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2011

    Great book

    Jacobson does a wonderful job of getting into the head of a young boy and how he uses his past experiences to survive on his own. Great ending.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews

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