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SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT

By Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4155-9
Publisher: Candlewick

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)