The Magician’s Elephant
By Kate DiCamillo
My thoughts on this book:
The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo is a mysterious and magical story about a boy named Peter who has been orphaned, and the unlikely appearance of an elephant who helps him find his way.
The story takes place in the city of Baltese, which is filled with people of different classes. It’s a cold and very dark winter with minimal sunshine. Peter currently lives with his guardian–a soldier named Vilna who fought in war alongside Peter’s father. Sadly, Peter’s mother died just after the birth of his baby sister. Even though Peter has been told that his sister also died at birth, he has a subtle remembrance of her crying and feels that she may still be alive.
One day, after being sent to the marketplace to purchase food, Peter discovers a fortuneteller. He asks the fortuneteller of his sister, and indeed, he’s told that she lives.
“You must follow the elephant,” said the fortune teller. “She will lead you there.”
Peter is shocked, excited, and also confused. Could this really be true? Why has he been lied to all these years? Peter knows he must find the elephant and attempt to locate his sister, but he can’t do it alone.
I really enjoyed the way the characters were written in this story; there’s enough left open to let the reader imagine. When I first started reading this with my kids, we were all reading intently, but without a whole lot of amusement my kids became disinterested. We still wanted to disvover what would happen with Peter and the other characters, but the story fell a little flat for us. Don’t get me wrong, the book is written well and it’s beautiful at times with themes of love, forgiveness, and most of all, hope.
“Looking out over the city, Peter decided that it was a terrible and complicated thing to hope, and that it might be easier, instead, to despair.”
I did love the ending (although predictable) with how each of the characters were impacted by the elephant and essentially changed. It had a nice conclusion. We also loved the illustrations. This was an enjoyable read that I’ll still recommend.
- Age Range: 8 – 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 – 7
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (December 8, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0763680885
- ISBN-13: 978-0763680886
A classic tale by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo, America’s beloved storyteller
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.
With dreamlike illustrations and a new cover by Yoko Tanaka.
Thanks for reading my review. Have you read this book or others by Kate DiCamillo? Feel free to share thoughts or suggestions below.