Monday, July 18, 2011

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

While camping with his mother, Jack wakes up to discover that she has left him. Alone.  Again.  Jack uses his experience with his mom disappearing and his smarts to avoid the police and social services.  Being  far home in Maine (they live in Masachusetts) doesn't hinder Jack's ability to find food (helping an old lady or from trash cans) or finding a place to sleep (in a store or church).  We surmise from Jack that his mom is mentally ill and that she has Jack believing that his grandma is the enemy.  Each chapter begins with a blurb about elephants with a quote from a book or an interesting fact.  Jack has always loved elephants and it is this love that will ultimately save him and help him heal.

A parent with a mental illness is a tough subject for kids.  Being abandoned by a parent is also tough.  Jennifer Jacobson handles these subjects deftly and readers will be cheering for Jack.  While as an adult I find it hard to believe that Jack survived alone as long as he did young readers will not.  Recommended for readers who like survival or adventure stories and contemporary fiction.

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