The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: September 8th, 2009
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 7+
Genres & Themes: Children’s, Family, Fantasy
When a fortuneteller’s tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller’s mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be narrated by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.
Kate DiCamillo has a unique voice. This is my 6th book from her and I don’t think I can compare her to any other author. The way she thinks… it’s different and unexpected, but in a good way.
This is the story of a little boy who tries to find his sister with the help of other characters, including a peculiar, magical elephant. Except, while Peter is technically the main character, since the story revolves around him, the author focuses on many other people.
And even though that makes things interesting and moving fast – there was always someone to talk about, something to focus on – I found it problematic in the sense that it makes it hard to connect to the characters. It was like the author absolutely wanted us to learn everyone’s back-stories to not forget them, in a forceful way.
The writing is excellent. This is a children’s book, so obviously it’s young, but very enjoyable for a mature audience too. Miss DiCamillo has a way with words. No wonder she’s ‘‘America’s Beloved Storyteller’’. Quite a prestigious title.
I can picture myself reading this out loud to a kid. Could make for a wonderful—magical—bedtime story. Not realistic in the slightest but the emotions and themes are true. Strong ties to family are beautiful.
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