Small as an Elephant
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Small as an Elephant

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  2,875 ratings  ·  527 reviews
Jack’s mom is gone, leaving him all alone on a campsite in Maine. Can he find his way back to Boston before the authorities realize what happened?

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 n...more
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Candlewick Press
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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
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
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
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.
Aug 04, 2012 Beverly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 10-14 year olds
Recommended to Beverly by: indie next list/
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
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
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
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
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
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
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

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
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
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
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
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
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
Sep 07, 2013 Erin added it
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
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
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
Jewelyssa James
Small as an elephant
By Jennifer Richard Jacobson
In the book Small as an elephant By Jennifer Richard Jacobson, there’s a little boy named Jack and his mom Becky who go camping for the Summer, but the next day that Jack woke up his mom was gone, missing without a trace. Jack has no clue, I mean no clue what so ever happened to his mother. “Do you know if…” He was going to say, If a woman with short blond hair, and a light-colored prius has come through, but a feeling in the pit of his stomach ma...more
While it occasionally stretched the bounds of what is credible, this story of a boy's struggle to come to terms with the reality of his situation after being abandoned by his mentally ill mother at a camp ground is heart felt, interesting, and effective. It provides fodder for countless discussions of ethics and right versus wrong, an adventurous chase and long journey, fascinating facts about elephants, and characters who are believable and lovable.

In order to have an 11-year old boy travel gre...more
The Styling Librarian
I listened to Small as an Elephant and thought the audiobook was pretty fantastic. The determination and care that is expressed through the book is sometimes frustrating because I just wanted to yell at the main character sometimes saying "it is ok to trust an adult!" Beautiful situation with many ethical issues raised. The love and adoration of a parent reminded me of One for the Murphys where the main character is confused but wants to still love their parent...
Chris Murray
Jack and his Mom are on a Labor Day camping trip in Acadia National Park in Maine when Jack wakes up one day to find his mom is gone. So is her tent and their rental car. He has $14 of spending money, his tent and a cell phone. This is not the first time that Jack has been left alone when his mother disappeared. His life has been an emotional roller coaster living with a single parent whose moods swing from loving and caring to neglectful and manic during what Jack calls her “spinning ti...more
I went through so many emotions while reading this book! I am interested to see what Alex thinks of it.
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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 Winnie at Her Best (Winnie Fletcher #3) Andy Shane and the Pumpkin Trick

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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.” 14 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.” 6 likes
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