05 January 2015

Review: Small as an Elephant

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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