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Small as an Elephant
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Small as an Elephant

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  3,531 ratings  ·  588 reviews
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 ...more
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Published March 1st 2011 by Candlewick Press (MA)
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Newbery 2012
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Diane
Wow! What a beautiful little story. I only read a few children's/YA books each year, and I am so glad that this was one of them.

"Small as an Elephant" is about an 11-year-old boy named Jack who goes camping with his mom in Maine, but when he wakes up in the morning, his mother is gone. She took her tent and the rental car and left Jack all alone at the campsite. A scary beginning, to be sure, but Jack is a very capable boy.

Jack sets out to try and find his mom, and it becomes quite the adventur
...more
Angie
Eleven year old Jack wakes up and realizes his mother is gone. They are on a camping vacation in Maine, far from Jamaica Plain Boston. Jack assumes his mom will return soon so he just makes do and keeps the fact that he is alone hidden. When his mom starts "spinning" she sometimes goes off, but she always returns. After several days he realizes that she is not coming back and he decides to try and make his way back to Massachusetts. He is alone, broke and scared. Soon everyone is looking for the ...more
Lisa Nocita
Extraordinary and heartbreaking! Eleven year old Jack wakes up on the second day of a camping vacation to discover that his mom has packed up her own tent and the camping supplies and left him. Jack sadly seems well-accustomed to these disappearances and is more than capable of fending for himself. At first, he is not very worried but as the day stretches into nighttime and then into the second day, he realizes that he won't be able to hide the truth from nearby campers and the park rangers. Plu ...more
Sharon
I loved this book. Jack is abandoned by his mother who is bipolar while on a camping trip in Maine. He is determined to travel home without exposing that he is alone, a mere child of 11 left to fend for himself. He fears going to the authorities will mean his mother will be sent to jail. This book has a lot of action and lots of voice. The ending is precious.
Beverly
Aug 04, 2012 Beverly rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 10-14 year olds
Recommended to Beverly by: indie next list/indiebound.org
Small As An Elephant could be a quick, sweet read, but it is so emotionally gut-wrenching, adult and older YA readers will find themselves slowing down to contemplate Jack's trauma and choices. Eleven year old Jack has been abondoned at a state park by his mentally ill mother. Younger readers will most likely focus on Jack's love for his mother, his desire to find her, and his adventures as he tries to get home. Older readers will share Jack's anger at his mother and see themselves in the adults ...more
Heidi
As I've read some of the reviews of this book on Goodreads, I've pondered on the various comments. Some people loved it, some people didn't. Some thought it was believable and some did not. I guess it just goes to show that few if any books are universally loved.

This is the story of Jack, and eleven-year-old from Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, who finds himself alone at a campground in Maine. His mother suffers from mental illness and has abandoned him. Jack knows that if he tells anyone about th
...more
babyhippoface
At chapter 7, I put this book down because I was so angry I didn't want to keep reading. After being away from it for a week and letting my irritation die down, I picked it back up and finished. It did keep me interested until the end, but I still have a problem with it. I found Jack to be portrayed realistically, or at least, how I believe a boy in that situation might think and behave. He was at times strong-willed and at others, broken and helpless like a small child. He was frightened, he wa ...more
Richie Partington
30 March 2011 SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, Candlewick, March 2011, 275p., ISBN: 978-0-7363-4155-9

"Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass"
-- Eleanor Farjeon, "Morning Has Broken"

"He remembered the first time his mother had taken him to see an elephant. He had been really little, no older than four. They'd been at a circus, and he'd hated it -- hated the chaotic music, the sudden snaps of the ringmaster's whip, the diamond-eyed
...more
Elizabeth K.
This is a little better than three stars, but certainly not four.

Jack, an 11 year old boy, finds himself unexpectedly alone while on a vacation to Maine, and then has to figure out what he is going to do to reunite himself with his mother.

One of my favorite things about this book was mentioned in the author's note - she went to Maine and visited all the places the character would have gone, and I felt like this really came through in the book. The geography of the story was completely real and b
...more
Sarah
A difficult read. Jack wakes up the first morning of his camping trip and his mom is missing. But Jack knows he can't tell anyone or he risks loosing his mom forever. So he sets out on his own to find her, looking all over the Maine island, and running into all kinds of trouble tracing his mom. While Jack initially sets off to find his mom, he ends up on the run, knowing while he probably isn't going to find her, he can't be found by anyone else or they'll never have a chance to be a family agai ...more
Cathy Blackler
Upon beginning this book I was reminded of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon-a child, after an argument with a parent, is alone in the woods of Maine. The resourcefulness of the main characters is similar as well, but that is where the similarities end. I was then reminded of Oliver Twist-a young boy, fueled by the love of a mother who is out of reach and helped by the kindness of strangers, finds his way home. I loved the elephant facts and references at the start of each chapter. I also thought qu ...more
Hannah
Jack's mother abandons him while camping in Maine. Because she has a history of psychiatric problems, and because this is not the first time she disappears, Jack avoids reporting anything to authorities in fear of being turned over to the department of social services. Left to his own devices, and with no means, Jack finds resourceful ways to stay alive and to make his way home. A sweet survivalist read for boys.

There was something odd to me about the voice and narration in this book. It doesn't
...more
Dichotomy Girl
I don't usually read middle grade books, (though that will most likely change as my daughter gets older), but the premise of this book intrigued me. It's the story of Jack, and how his bi-polar Mother leaves him while camping on an island in Maine. Jack, doesn't want to be taken away from his Mother, so he decides to make his way back to Boston where he is sure she will come back to him.

The story is peppered with facts about Elephants, which I (with my general elephant ignorance) found fascinati
...more
Kirsten
This book caught my attention at the very start and was a quick read. I liked it, made me think about many issues that kids/parents with mental illness deal with. I had many emotions while reading it, even made me cry.
Giéllen
It's a good book, touching. I teared up on the end. I would recommend it for older kids though, 10 to 12 years old.
Elephants are always wonderful.
Deb Tyo
Wow.

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson was the perfect book to break the Summer Reading Slump I have been in the past couple weeks. After reading some great books, I've been on the hunt for something different, something that would break the Summer Doldrums of Reading. I certainly found it in this gentle giant of a book.

"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
...more
Samantha
When Jack and his mother travel to Maine to go camping over Labor Day weekend, Jack is happy and only a little grumpy about the argument he had with his mom about the sites they should see between Maine and their home in Massachusetts. When Jack wakes up after his first night in the National Forest, things are a bit different. Jack's mother has abandoned him. She's taken the car and her tent and simply vanished. At first Jack isn't too worried. Maybe she went to get food, maybe she moved to a be ...more
Jenben8426
When eleven year old Jack Martel steps out of his pup tent on a campsite in Maine he quickly realizes his mother is no longer on the site with him. Jack doesn't immediately begin to panic--after all when his mother goes through her "spinning" phases she isn't quite herself and she always comes back and apologizes. This time though Jack isn't in his apartment back in Massachusetts--he is two states away with no money, no supplies, and no food. Jack wishes they had never had that fight over going ...more
Anne
A moving story told from an 11-year-old's perspective. I discovered this book in Bar Harbor while we were camping in Acadia National Park at the same campground where this story begins, so it immediately drew me in. Starts with a real air of mystery -- what happened to Jack's mother? Why would she have left him? -- and the story gradually reveals how Jack both loves his mother fiercely and has had to learn to compensate for her mental illness, putting an adult burden on his childhood. Perhaps be ...more
Ann Haefele
Well written survival story about a boy whose mother abandons him on a camping trip. While Jack knows his mother has a mental illness that makes her act irrational at times, she is still his mom and he both loves her and is protective of her. He does not want to tell anyone of the latest circumstance as he fears he will be put in a foster home. So he sets off to find his way home by sneaking rides, eating what he's lucky to find, and even spending the night inside an L. L. Bean store, all while ...more
Ally
Daughter and I picked this as our mother-daughter book club selection. 12 year old read it in 24 hours, had to find out what happened. I took my time and enjoyed Jack's journey. I loved the rich descriptions of Maine and Massachusetts and Jack's ingenuity. The elephants facts were a nice bonus.

Looking forward to our discussion in a few weeks with out book club.
Sarah
This was a page turner. Tweenage Jack wakes up on the first day of a camping trip with his mother and discovers that she has disappeared. She's done this before, so he's not worried at first. But after a day of fending fro himself the story becomes a survival story: physical and emotional survival. Because if he lets himself ask the hardest question, he's going to fall apart. Because really, what kind of mother would leave her son alone in the middle of a campground in Maine? I couldn't wait to ...more
Cat Fithian
I had a VERY hard time liking this book at all. 11-yr-old Jack is abandoned at a public campsite by his mother, who is mentally ill. Jack then fends for himself, on the run, on an epic journey. First he's trying to find his mother and then he's trying to get to a zoo to see an elephant (he loves elephants). The voice of Jack was at times too young and at times too self-assured. The premise was so disturbing to me that I had trouble reading it all, but had to skim through the book to find out wha ...more
Susan Crean
I was blown away by this book. Jack, an independent 10 year old boy, wakes up at the Acadia National Park in Maine only to find out that his mother has left. He is upset, but not surprised. His mom is bipolar, and in the throes of a manic episode. Jack knows that his future is at stake, and not wanting to be taken from his mom, tries to find her. I am convinced the author must have a close family member who is bipolar in order to have nailed the character of Jack’s mom. I felt like I was with Ja ...more
Erin
This was a easy flow read. It held my attention easily and I felt great concern and empathy for Jack as he struggled to figure out how to get along with out his mother. I acted as any typical 11 year old kid who grew up in his circumstances would act. He was afraid of getting in trouble which caused him to make poor decisions throughout the book, but decisions that a typical kid would make. The idea of his attachment to elephants was a cute idea and seemed to play well into the story without mak ...more
Xandra
I thought this book had a lot of a motion and feeling to it.This book is really sad and happy.I thought it was really sad how Jack's mom abandoned him. Jack had to really dependend on him self. He collected can's to get money to buy himself food. He stole things which I did think was a very good idea. what would you do? If I were the boy I would hide in somebody's house and call someone to help me.I would rate this book and 8 out of 10. I would recommend this book to people who like sad but happ ...more
Tracy
This book was amazing.
I flew through the pages, because I really wanted to know what happened to Jack and his mother, after she leaves him at a campground in Maine, far away from their home in Boston. Jack refuses to tell anyone what his mother has done, because she has done it before, but always came back. Jack is also afraid that if other people knew that his mother abandoned him, he would be separated from her forever.

So Jack decides to find search the state of Maine for his mom, all on his o
...more
Anna
Jack and his Mother have gone a mini vacation before school starts, to Maine’s Acadia National Park. They are going to camp there for a few days. When Jack wakes up the first morning his mother, the car, her tent, and all of his food is gone. Jack contemplates on where she could have gone, there is no way she could have left him.

I am wondering what I would do if I was in Jack’s position. I imagine I would be super scared and devastated. Jack seems totally fine and really pulls through but never
...more
Michelle
I will admit that I grabbed this book because I was drawn to the cover. It's about 11 year old Jack who is camping with his mother in Acadia Nat'l Park in Maine over Labor Day weekend. He wakes up after their first night camping and his mother, her tent and their car are gone. You slowly come to realize that his mother is Bipolar and has abandoned him in the midst of a manic phase. Something similar has happened before so Jack doesn't tell anyone that he is all alone for fear he will be taken fr ...more
Jennifer H
Oh man, I did not like this book. It started off fine, and it was interesting. His mom abandons him, but it isn't unusual, so he attempts to find her. That part of the story was interesting. The poor kid was wavering in-between coming to that realization that his mom was gone-gone and having an adventure. Even when he decided to go home, that was an adventure. It was funny, but really everything mostly went his way - he got food, he escaped, he got locked into an L.L. Bean without a security sys ...more
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Jennifer Richard Jacobson has written many books for young readers, including stories about Andy Shane. She lives in Yarmouth, Maine.
More about Jennifer Richard Jacobson...
The Complete History of Why I Hate Her Stained Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Dolores Starbuckle Andy Shane and the Pumpkin Trick Winnie at Her Best (Winnie Fletcher #3)

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“Elephants love reunions. They recognize one another after years and years of separation and greet each other with wild, boisterous joy. There's bellowing and trumpeting, ear flapping and rubbing. Trunks entwine.” 17 likes
“Elephants can sense danger. They're able to detect an approaching tsunami or earthquake before it hits. Unfortunately, Jack did not have this talent. The day his life was turned completely upside down, he was caught unaware.” 7 likes
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