Thursday, August 4, 2011

small as an elephant

small as an elephant
by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2011
juvenile realistic fiction
275 pages

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 his mom gone, but Jack knows by now that he needs to figure things out for himself - starting with how to get from the backwoods of Maine to his home in Boston before Social Services catches on. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins the long journey south, a journey that will test his wits and his loyalties - and his trust that he may be part of a larger herd after all.

Jack is an amazingly tough yet tender-hearted  little boy. He knows his mother is not "normal" but he feels he has to keep their secrets so they can stay together. I won't be a bit surprised to see this on the Newbery lists next year. It has several elements that seem to reappear in many winning titles, the family troubles, the independent child testing his survival skills, and some brief but powerful encounters with secondary characters.

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