Beverly B, August 4, 2013 (view all comments by Beverly B)
Small As An Elephant is a very good example of the best in YA literature. It can be read at many different levels. It could be a quick, sweet read, but it is so emotionally gut-wrenching, adult and more mature readers will find themselves slowing down to contemplate Jack's trauma and choices. Middle grade readers will most likely focus on the plot - eleven year old Jack trying to get home after being abandoned at a state park by his mentally ill mother. Younger readers will be touched by Jack's love for his mother, his desire to find her, and his adventures, as he tries to get home. Older readers will share Jack's anger at his mother and see themselves in the adults in the story who did not pay careful enough attention to spot a desperate child in need of loving intervention. Jack must find his way home without anyone finding out his mother is gone. Since Jack was very young, his devoted, but dysfunctional mother has taught him not to trust adults and to keep their eccentric lifestyle a secret, or he will be taken away from her. She has isolated him from family and prevented him from establishing close relationships with teachers, classmates or neighbors. This unhealthy upbringing actually helps Jack survive alone as he tries to make his way home. He is self-reliant and knows how to lie. He is also clever and a quick decision maker. Being eleven, however, he does not think his decisions through very well and gets himself in several sticky situations. The climax is exciting, but the ending is a little preachy.
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