SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Last year I wrote and finished a manuscript in close third person. It’s like first person, but you’re more like a camera that hovers near your MC’s eyes. It”s quite elegant writing if done right. Before starting my project I read several books written in this way. One of my favorites was Small as an Elephant.31ybVrekqpL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Since I am ready for a rewrite of my own close 3rd person manuscript, I re-read Jennifer Jacobson’s novel last week to get me in the correct writing frame of mind. I’m glad I did as it allowed me to step back and observe the writing.

Your emotions will twist and turn as you follow Jack trying to find home and his mom who abandoned him. In this day of Amber Alerts and cell phones, I first had reservations about the plot and could a child be on the run for so long. Jack though makes everything very believable.

The author has another family contemporary MG story out last month, PAPER THINGS. It’s back to the more familiar first person POV and I am looking forward to also reading that one soon.


FULL PLOT (From Amazon):  Ever since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times caught in a whirlwind of energy and “spinning” wildly until it’s over. But Jack never thought his mom would take off during the night and leave him at a campground in Acadia National Park, with no way to reach her and barely enough money for food. Any other kid would report his mom gone, but Jack knows by now that he needs to figure things out for himself – starting with how to get from the backwoods of Maine to his home in Boston before DSS catches on. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins the long journey south, a journey that will test his wits and his loyalties – and his trust that he may be part of a larger herd after all.


  1. Jack has a love of elephants and his passion is a central theme of the story. Each chapter begins with an interesting quote or fact about this huge creature. I will look at elephants differently from now on.
  2. I had anticipated the ending but not the way it was written. Surprises for sure.
  3. Jack must do things he normally wouldn’t do like steal. He’s very torn though with every decision he must make. Jack’s a good kid thrown into an awful situation.
  4. Mental illness has been explored before in MG books (Waiting for Normal was the last one I read). It brings light to the upheaval brought to families and the emotional scars left. I’m more hopeful for those in need after books of this type.
  5. Jack’s adventure takes him to some unique hideouts. There’s only one that is very appealing – the remaining locations will have you cringing.

FAVORITE LINES:“Of course you can read a book for grown-ups, Jack. You’re a smart kid,” his mom had said. “Read a chapter to me.”

He had, skipping over a bad word or two, and she had smiled.

QUOTE FROM AUTHOR: “I struggled to figure out how Jack, an abandoned boy, would survive – not in the wilderness, but in civilization. I physically traced Jack’s route (every place he visits actually exists) and tried to imagine what the journey would be like for an eleven-year-old, entirely on his own, and with a big secret to keep.”


Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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11 Responses to SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sounds like a good story. And that’s great it helped you with your own writing. I love writing in 3rd person limited.

  2. This sounds like a great story. I’ve never heard of it but it sounds like my kind of MG book. Good luck with your own book, I’ll be curious to read it.

  3. I hadn’t heard of this one, but I will add it to my TBR list. I haven’t read Waiting for Normal either. It looks good as well. Another MG that examines mental illness if Nest by Esther Ehrlich also explores this problem. It’s a terrific book. Thanks for the post.

  4. jennienzor says:

    What a gorgeous cover and title. This really sounds intriguing. I feel for Jack just from your description. I really enjoy close 3rd as well, it’s often what I write in as well. Good luck with your revisions!

  5. Joanne Fritz says:

    I loved this book (I reviewed it back when MMGM was fairly new), and one of the reasons was the setting. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Maine and the author brought it to life beautifully.

    Third person close is my favorite POV.

  6. Andrea says:

    Oh, I read this one! I need to give it another look!

  7. warrchick says:

    This sounds a bit like Dicey’s Song, but from a boy pov. I look forward to it!

  8. It sounds like the author wrote a very realistic book. I didn’t note the year, but I could see this a period book in the 50s or 60s. Excellent review.

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