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Small as an Elephant

Jennifer Richard Jacobson


List Price: 15.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (4/9/2013)
MP3 CD (9/8/2015)
Compact Disc (3/8/2011)
MP3 CD (3/8/2011)
Compact Disc (3/8/2011)
MP3 CD (3/8/2011)

Spring 2011 Kids' Next List

“Over Labor Day weekend, 11-year-old Jack's mom takes him camping in Maine. When he wakes up that first morning and finds her gone along with the car and all their food, he knows he'll have to find his own way home. Jack's mother has always been unpredictable, but if she's 'spinning' she won't be making good decisions, and if he turns himself in, Social Services will probably make him live with his grandma. This is a great read about a young boy's determination to see things through to the end, and his realization that, although he was abandoned, he was never really alone.”
— Jamie Schildknecht, The Rediscovered Bookshop, Boise, ID
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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?
(Ages 10-14)

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 DSS 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.

Praise For Small as an Elephant

Jack’s journey to a new kind of family is inspiring and never sappy
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Jack comes to realize that he hadn’t been alone, that family and people he didn’t even know were there for him in a ‘makeshift herd.’ The happy yet realistic ending leaves Jack (and readers) ‘light-headed with hope.'
—Horn Book

Jennifer Richard Jacobson’s nuanced and heart-wrenching middle-grade novel, Small as an Elephant, gives a quiet force to one resilient boy and his mentally ill mother.

A classic journey story, this is a very believable and exciting adventure with modern accoutrements.
—Library Media Connection

A near-perfect mix of poignancy, humor, and masterful writing make for an unforgettable journey.
—Midwest Book Review

Candlewick, 9780763641559

Publication Date: March 8, 2011

About the Author

Jennifer Richard Jacobson is the author of several books for children and young adult readers, including the Andy Shane early chapter books, illustrated by Abby Carter. She lives in Cumberland, Maine.

Conversation Starters from

1. Why does Jack’s mom leave him? Is it his fault?

2. What would you do if you were Jack? How would you feel?

3. What does Jack mean when he says that his mom is “spinning” (page 70)? Why does that happen?

4. Why are elephants so important to Jack?

5. Why is it important to Jack to see the elephant Lydia?

6. What are some strategies that Jack uses to survive on his own?

7. Is it ever OK to steal? Why or why not?

8. Do you think Jack is better off living with his mother, or should they be separated?

9. Who helps Jack along the way? Why do each of these people assist him?

10. Do you think Jack’s decision to look for his mom on his own is a good decision? Why or why not?