Review of The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

Format: Hardback
Genres: Magic, Childrenss,
Pages: 201
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: 08/09/2009
Find The Author: Website

Find The Illustrator: Website
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In a highly awaited new novel, Kate DiCamillo conjures a haunting fable about trusting the unexpected — and making the extraordinary come true.

What if? Why not? Could it be?

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.

Peter Duchene spends the money given to him by his guardian on a Fortune Teller, which starts of a spiral of events - an elephant appears out of nowhere, dreams become prophetic, a couple gets the family they dreamed of. The Magician's Elephant is a whimsical tale that is almost certain to leave a smile on your face. 

The city of Baltese really came to life in these pages, particularly with the help of Yoko Tanaka's illustrations. Many citizens get some of their own stories told, like the magician, the magician's victim, even the elephant. The residents are an unusual bunch too, often repeating the same sentences again and again. I did picture Baltese as a Parisian style town throughout the book, despite never having been there.

The resonating message throughout this story is hope, all of the characters have wishes of something better, even the animals. Especially the animals! This is a magical tale, with the sort of magic you don't really find in teen books, that I always search for in children's books. Something that made me feel like I was a child again, believing in the impossible.

Just as good as The Tale of Despereaux, The Magician's Elephant is a magical tale of the city of Baltese, where anything can happen - elephants can appear, families can be reunited and new friendships made. It cleverly ties many different citizen's stories together throughout without making me confused about who was who. Highly recommend to anyone looking for something a bit different.



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