Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jocobson

One of my family members is an elephant fanatic. Ever since our trip to India several years back, she has been seriously passionate about elephants. Not crazy rabid or anything, just totally faithful that they carry great wisdom and spirit, and for that and more, she loves 'em. Loves 'em. She has spent time here locally very near some elephants ( I am sworn to secrecy for that story), she always has her elephant pendant on, and she created a tattoo with an elephant (as in Ganesh) at the center: see, committed. So when I saw the cover of this juvenile fiction book, I wondered about if someone like Laurie would like this book. Turns out the answer is very likely yes. I am not an elephant-driven gal, but the story sure made me wonder about the possibilities.

The story centers on a young man whose mother desserts him in a campground. Yep, she has her own issues and she makes a big mistake. And Jack, being the upstanding and dedicated kid he is, like most kids, he decides to go find her. It is not an easy journey for him, but let's just be sure we remember that he keeps his eyes on the prize of possibility. He comes across some very kind people in his travels, he has stuff stolen, he steals stuff, he realistically doesn't trust the cops, his old friends, and his new friends. He struggles to figure out what to do until he realizes where he must go (yep, this is one key point where elephants come into play). The storyline holds merit and seems plausible, and I would love to believe that if I had been in his shoes at his age that I would have had enough gumption to do what he did. I doubt I did. But on the converse side, I grew up around adults whom for the most part I trusted to help me out if I needed it. I grew up totally different than the frame Jacobson writes from for Jack. And I guess that is where I would love to believe I would have enough gumption, wherewithal, guts to show up and act like he does. It's pretty powerful, and the greatest thing to me was how one key person figured it all out just about when he did. And that is what made this book worth reading for me. Yep, the elephant piece is powerful, but for me, I maintain hope in connecting deeply with others and this "other" does just that.

This is a keeper. I really enjoyed it and can imagine young readers swallowing it all down and then needing to talk about it. You would be offering yourself a gift if you read it with or before your child or student; then you too get to witness Jacobson's handy work and enjoy a sweet story about elephants, survival, and relationship.

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