What You Need to Know:|
• The Magician's Elephant is another triumph from award-winning author, Kate DiCamillo - truly a breathtaking piece of
• While I have placed it in the Reader Sr. reading level, please be sure your reader is mature enough to understand
and appreciate this mulit-layered and multi-faceted story. Much is lost if it is read by an inexperience reader without
• Read together it is a gorgeous read-aloud and will give you many fascinating points of discussions for you and your
• While I didn't mark any concerns above in Subject Matter, I would like to alert you to the fact that our protaganist is
orphaned and living with a questionable guardian, and old soldier suffering from either dementia or PTSD. If your
child is a worrier, this may make a better shared reading experience.
The Magician's Elephant begins with Peter Augustus Duchene, an orphan, on an errand to buy fish and bread for himself and his guardian, an old soldier named Vilna Lutz. When Peter sees a fortune teller, he can't help himself, and uses all his money not to buy rations, but to buy a reading from the fortune teller. Peter just has to find out if his sister is alive, as he suspects.
When the fortune teller explains his sister is still alive and the elephant will lead him to her, Peter is outraged - he feels he has been had. There is no elephant within miles of his city, Baltese. That evening, however, an elephant comes crashing through the Opera House ceiling. An aging and failing magician just meant to conjure up a bouquet of flowers, and instead brought an elephant down right on Madame LaVaughn, crushing her legs and confining her to a wheelchair. The magician and the elephant are immediately imprisoned.
Peter follows the elephant through a myriad of situations in search of his sister, meeting and bettering his own life in the process of eventually finding his beloved sister. Peter is a strong character who you root for. DiCamillo has also created a strong supporting cast of characters, who all contribute marvelously to this wonderful story.
DiCamiilo takes untraditional elements and interesting characters and weaves a story of pure lyrical splendor. While I am not given to waxing on about language, DiCamillo is a master. She has produced not only an exciting story that will have your reader entranced, she has done so with language that literally sings off the page. Her descriptions make you feel as though you are literally watching the action. I really can't say enough about this book.
A little anecdote in reference to my bullet point above about not giving this to too young a reader. My daughter and I read this for her third grade book club, ambitious at best. The girls who read it with an adult loved the book. The girls who read it independently, found it dark and tiresome, and missed half the experience by not having understood the nuances, and therefore the story. It would really be a shame if a reader reads this too early, and half the book is lost to them, because it is unlikely they will go back to it when they are older. And that would be a real loss. I think this book could span to a really advanced age.
2009, 208 pages
Mystery, Fantasy, Siblings, Animals - Elephants, Self-Awareness/Discovery
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