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.


  • Maine Lupine Award
  • Maine Literary Award Finalist
  • IRA Young Adults’ Choices List
  • VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers
  • Parents’ Choice Gold Award
  • The Horn Book Summer Reading List
  • Best Fiction for Young Adults
  • IndieBound Kids’s Next List
  • Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award list nominee
  • William Allen White Children’s Book Award Master List
  • Georgia Children’s Book Award List
  • South Carolina Book Awards nominee
  • Missouri Truman Readers Award Nominee
  • Great Stone Face Book Award nominee
  • Maine Student Book Award Master List
  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Master List


This simply written but emotionally rich tale of an 11-year-old boy abandoned by his bipolar single mother will kindle profound responses in young readers
— Booklist Starred Review

…Jacobson masterfully puts readers into Jack’s mind—he loves and understands his mother, but sometimes his judgments are not always good, and readers understand. His love and knowledge of elephants both sustains him and pleasingly shapes the story arc. Jack’s journey to a new kind of family is inspiring and never sappy.

Jacobson has great success putting readers inside Jack’s not-always-thinking-things-through mind, and by the end of the story, nicely tied together by the elephant theme, Jack comes to realize that he hadn’t been alone, that family and people he didn’t even know were there for him in a “makeshift herd.” The happy yet realistic ending leaves Jack (and readers) “light-headed with hope.”
– Horn Book