Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Nothing like coming home from the International Literacy Association Conference with a suitcase full of books to inspire lots of reading, and since novels for children and young adults are generally quicker reads it isn't difficult to read a novel a day.

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson  instantly appealed to me because it is initially set in Acadia National Park, one of the most beautiful places I have spent time in.  Many of the places in the novel are quite familiar to me although I now live on the West Coast.

Jack's mom takes him for a short camping trip in the park and then when he wakes up after the first morning, she and the car have disappeared and she doesn't reappear.  Rather than notify the authorities of her disappearance, he decides to search for her despite basically having only a tent, a cell phone and $14 dollars.  His mom appears to be bipolar and has disappeared and reappeared before.  He is also afraid that he will be sent to his grandmother's who his mom has made Jack mistrust.

Jack is amazingly resilient and resourceful as he goes on this odyssey which eventually has him trying to get back to his home in Massachusetts with a detour to see an elephant.  I was also impressed by his tolerance of a mom who in many ways due to mental illness is quite irresponsible.  Your heart goes out to him, and as a teacher I have certainly known children in very difficult circumstances.  I think this book would be very appealing to middle school students, and also a good vehicle of discussion in a classroom.

No comments: