The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

Peter Augustus Duchene is a ten year old orphan who is undergoing training to become a soldier like his father before him. When his guardian, sends him out to buy some fish and bread at the Baltese market square, he sees a fortune teller tent and decides that answers to his questions are far more important than eating stale bread. Instead he pays the fortune teller to answer a most pressing question... is his sister alive, and if so, how can he find her. See Peter was told that his sister died at birth - but he’s always had this niggling suspicion. The fortune teller answers him with the response "follow the elephant". To Peter, this sounds preposterous and he just assumes the fortune teller is mad. But when a magician across town tries to conjure up a bouquet of flowers for an audience member and instead summons an elephant who crashes through the ceiling of the opera house, an unbelievable chain of events are set into motion.

I loved that throughout the story you get a little bit of each character as some of the chapters flip from one character’s viewpoint to the next. Although the story is about a boy in search of a sister, a magician who just wanted something “more” in life, and an elephant that although alters many a life, does it for the best, it is so much more about love, relationships, darkness and loneliness but also about hoping, dreaming and believing.

The book’s description says it is geared for grades 4 - 7, but I do not think a child can take in and savor Ms. DiCamillo’s writing. Her wordplay is something to behold - something to be spoken out loud. Not just is the story magical but reading it feels like a treasure. You just feel so good doing it. It is a quick read - the pages are small, the writing is simple, with few words on each page, but the message is so tremendous. Ms. Tanaka's illustrations although sparse (and I confess, I would have really liked there to be more of them) only added to the seduction and mystery of this tale.

All in all, I highly recommend this to children and adults of all ages. This would make a lovely Christmas gift and I can definitely envision it on the big screen.


A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

This book sounds great. Haven't really heard negative thoughts about it yet. Thanks for your review :)

Diane said...

I LOVED this book when I read it recently. Great review.

Juju at Tales of said...

O fantastic review. Thank you for letting us know it will appeal to adults as well. :)

Juju at Tales of said...

"wordplay is something to behold"

Amy said...

Thanks for the review! This is now definitely on my list of things to read.

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