05 January 2015
Review: Small as an Elephant
Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I can't help but be a little thrown off when I get to read books about kids who end up fending for themselves in society. It's different than the "lost in the woods/desert/city" books because those are at least trying to tell a specific story, but this one, while well done, is just a little sad.
Jack's mother clearly has some sort of mental illness and ends up leaving Jack in the middle of the night during a camping trip. Jack decides he's going to head home from Maine to the Boston area on his own, hopefully before anyone else catches up with him, and the result is a tale of urban survival that ends up hitting a lot of Maine landmarks on the way to its conclusion.
This is a tough subject to tackle for a middle grade audience, and the story does a great job of dancing around the issue of parental mental illness while still addressing it appropriately. Jack's story is sometimes a little too smart for its own good, but the "I can get that" feeling from a lot of the choices does make up for it. The ending is perhaps too tidy, but appropriate for the age group.
Overall, a pretty solid read. Doesn't exactly stand apart from similar fare, but it does a good job of staking its own place within the existing tropes.
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