(Ages 10-14) 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. Read more...
(Ages 10-14) 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.
- ISBN-13: 9780763641559
- ISBN-10: 0763641553
- Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA)
- Publish Date: March 2011
- Page Count: 275
- Reading Level: Ages 9-12
- Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.2 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.83 pounds
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Social Themes - Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Action & Adventure - Survival Stories
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Social Themes - Depression & Mental Illness
The long walk home
Camping out with his mother over Labor Day weekend in Maine’s Acadia National Park is supposed to be the best three days of 11-year-old Jack Martel’s summer vacation. But when he awakes after their first night and discovers that his presumably bipolar mother has driven off and disappeared, Jack deduces that she must be “spinning.” Jennifer Richard Jacobson’s nuanced and heart-wrenching middle grade novel, Small as an Elephant, gives a quiet force to one resilient boy and his mentally ill mother.
Afraid that Social Services will take him away from his dysfunctional home (but his home nonetheless), his mother will go to jail, he’ll have to change schools and a host of other worries, Jack begins a 248-mile walk home to Massachusetts. Finding strength in his obsession with elephants, based on one of his first and strongest memories with his mother, he figures out how to forage for food, spend the night after hours at an LL Bean store and evade police when he learns that he’s the “Missing Boy” on the news. Hoping to make his long trek meaningful, Jack changes course, detouring to York’s Wild Kingdom to see Lydia, Maine’s only elephant.
Jack’s endless repertoire of elephant facts and stories, as well as the elephant information and quotes that begin each chapter, show that elephants and humans share many qualities. Both want to be accepted and loved. With a makeshift herd that helps him throughout his journey—supplying food, transportation, friendship and encouragement when he needs it—Jack accepts the truth about his mother and finds forgiveness and a new sense of home. Perhaps, like the elephants, it takes a herd to raise a child.