SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
If Jack could do vacation all over again, he wouldn’t have fought with his mother in the car on the way up to Maine. If he hadn’t fought with her, maybe she wouldn’t have left during the night, leaving him alone at the campsite with no food or supplies. But she did leave him—again. And now Jack knows that his only hope of staying out of the clutches of Child Protective Services (the people his mother has warned him would take him away from her forever) is to hide from the police and make his own way back home from Maine to Boston.
Kids who love survival stories are sure to enjoy Jack’s journey across Maine, although urban survival certainly presents different challenges than the more typical wilderness survival books. We also get a glimpse into a family with a loving parent who, due to mental illness, is unable to fulfill her parental responsibilities. The message is a bit heavy-handed at points, but the book still provides an interesting perspective on a different type of family. The writing is not as compelling as Cynthia Voigt’s Homecoming (in part due to Jack’s isolation and a scarcity of interesting secondary characters leading to extensive ruminative narration), but it is still an enjoyable and suspenseful read.