Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Jack seems like any normal eleven-year-old boy until everyone in Maine starts looking for him. When Jack’s unstable mother deserts him on a vacation in Maine, Jack’s life turns into a day-by-day game of survival and secrecy. Afraid that asking for help would get his mother sent to prison for neglect, Jack tries to get back to his home in Massachusetts by himself. However, Jack’s plans fell apart, forcing him to reconsider his plan. With the whole state looking for him, Jack travels all over Maine trying to lay low in loyalty to his mother. Though he travels many miles, Jack’s longest journey occurs within his heart, as he travels through old memories and wounds, to a place where he can finally find peace.
Small as an Elephant, by Jennifer Jacobson, is a touching contemporary novel. The skillful character development offers insight into the thoughts of a neglected child. While readers see the flaws in Jack’s thought processes, they feel sympathy for him and hope with him for a positive resolution between he and his mother. The story seems slow at first, with Jack meandering lost through Maine, but the plot moves dramatically within Jack, as he seeks emotional resolution with the events of his life. Though this book involves heavy topics, it is appropriate for most young readers, as it is told from a child’s perspective. Small as an Elephant is a wonderful read for those seeking a good story and a new outlook on contemporary family problems.