Small as an Elephant
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Small as an Elephant

4.6 33
by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
     
 

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Jack’s mom is gone, leaving him all alone on a campsite in Maine. Can he find his way back to Boston before the authorities realize what happened?

Ever since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times caught in a whirlwind of energy and "spinning" wildly until it’s over. But Jack never

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Overview

Jack’s mom is gone, leaving him all alone on a campsite in Maine. Can he find his way back to Boston before the authorities realize what happened?

Ever since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times caught in a whirlwind of energy and "spinning" wildly until it’s over. But Jack never thought his mom would take off during the night and leave him at a campground in Acadia National Park, with no way to reach her and barely enough money for food. 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 catches on. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins the long journey south, a journey that will test his wits and his loyalties - and his trust that he may be part of a larger herd after all.

Editorial Reviews

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
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
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
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
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)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763663339
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
04/09/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
73,044
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

What People are saying about this

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

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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