Small As An Elephant

SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT

Jennifer Richard Jacobson

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.

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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.

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?
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  • Candlewick Press
  • Hardcover
  • March 2011
  • 288 Pages
  • 9780763641559

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$15.99

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About Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Jennifer JacobsonJennifer 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.

Author Website

Praise

“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.”Bookpage

Discussion Questions

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?