Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (Candlewick Press, 2011)
Elephants can sense danger. They’re able to detect an approaching tsunami or earthquake before it hits. Unfortunately, Jack did not have this talent. The day his life was turned completely upside down, he was caught unaware.
Eleven-year-old Jack Martel crawls out of his tent after his first night camping in Arcadia National Park to discover that his mother’s tent and their rental car are missing. Once Jack faces the reality that he has been abandoned, he tries to figure out how to find his mother and avoid being taken by the Department of Social Services. As it turns out, Jack is not a typical boy, and he is used to his mother’s unpredictable behavior when she is “spinning” out of control.
Jacobson begins each chapter with a fact or anecdote about elephants that runs parallel to Jack’s story. As the author learned in her research, elephants are maternal creatures. Even when at risk, a female will not abandon her young, and if an elephant family is destroyed due to poaching, the elephants will form new families. Although Jack feels very much alone, he discovers that like the elephants that he loves, his “family” is larger than he has imagined.
Visit the author’s website at www.jenniferjacobson.com to follow Jack’s route and learn more about the places that he visits as he searches for his mother, or submit your own story of what Jack might have experienced if his adventure had taken part in your part of the world.