Thursday, August 30, 2012

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Jacobson

11 year old Jack and his mother planned one last camping trip before school started.  But on the way to the camp ground, Jack and his mother quarrel, and when Jack wakes up in his tent the next morning, his mother, the car, and all her camping equipment are gone.  Jack is not as surprised as most children would have been.  Jack's mother has left him before for short periods of time. So he waits, but she never returns.  Finally he decides to make his way from Main to his home in Boston on his own.  The book is an account of how he makes his way, finds food, shelter and transportation so it is kind of a urban survival story.  It is also a story about a child dealing with his mother's mental illness. Flashbacks show how, over time, Jack learns to cope with his mother's "Spinning Times" when she loses all sense of propriety and goes off on wild tangents. Jack is a sympathetic character.  He is both intelligent, but realistically 11 years old. He makes what, to a child, would seem to be logical plans that then go wrong. Over the course of the book he gradually accepts the fact that his mother can't take care of him anymore, and that there are other people he can turn to for help.  (275p)

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