Sunday, July 5, 2015

SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Small as an Elephant
Despite having an argument with his mother about going to York to see Lydia the elephant, eleven year old Jack Martel is excited about their brief vacation to Maine.  They arrive at the campground and pitch their tents late in the evening.  In the morning Jack emerges from his small tent to discover his mother's tent is gone and so is their car.

She probably went to get supplies and will return in a short while so Jack tries to stay busy around camp.  As time ticks away, he begins to suspect the worst.  This isn't the first time his mother has disappeared.  Things can be going along just fine until she stops taking her medication.  That's when she begins "spinning" as Jack refers to it.  Even if she is gone for several days, they have always been at home and Jack knows how to take care of himself.  Now he's alone in Maine more than 250 miles away from their home in Massachusetts.  That's a whole new level of taking care of himself.

Jack decides he must find her.  He hides his tent and most of his supplies in the nearby woods.  Taking only his backpack and sleeping bag, he heads off.  The campground is located on an island in the Bar Harbor area, but it doesn't take long for Jack to realize the island is much bigger than he thought.  As he scours the first small town, he begins to understand the challenges he will be facing.  How will he find food?  Where will he sleep?  How will he answer the questions from strangers when they encounter an eleven year old boy on his own?

One of the things that keeps Jack going is his unusual fascination with elephants.  Ever since he can remember he has gathered facts about them.  His one up close and personal encounter with an elephant is etched in his memory, and he wants desperately to recreate that moment.  Although, he and his mother had argued about whether to stop in York, Maine, to visit the elephant in an animal sanctuary there, he begins to believe that going there is how he will find his mother.

As the days go by, news reports of a missing young boy are popping up.  Jack is trying to stay one step ahead of those searching for him because he fears that if he is found he will lose his mother forever.

Author Jennifer Richard Jacobson has created a story that will tear at the heartstrings of readers.  Jack's na├»ve determination is touching and inspiring as his genuine love for his mother and all things elephant combine in this memorable book.  Perfect for middle grade readers or anyone looking for a beautifully written story about love and courage.

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