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The Magician's Elephant Hardcover – September 8, 2009
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Amazon Best of the Month, September 2009: Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo--author of The Tale of Despereaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane-- has crafted another exquisite novel for young readers. The Magician's Elephant tells the tale of Peter Augustus Duchene, a ten-year-old orphan who receives an unbelievable piece of information from the local fortuneteller. Peter learns that his fate is tied to an elephant that has inexplicably fallen from the sky when a magician's trick goes terribly wrong. Why did it happen? And, how can an elephant possibly change the course of Peter's life? This darkly atmospheric, yet hopeful tale, demonstrates that when the answers to life’s big questions are opaque or unforthcoming, all is not lost. DiCamillo's rhythmic writing, combined with Yoko Tanaka's mysterious black-and-white illustrations, enchants and calls out to our sincerest wishes and dreams (recommended for readers ages 8-13). --Lauren Nemroff
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 4–6—On a perfectly ordinary day, Peter Augustus Duchene goes to the market square of the city of Baltese. Instead of buying the fish and bread that his guardian, Vilna Lutz, has asked him to procure, he uses the coin to pay a fortune-teller to get information about his sister, whom he believes to be dead. He is told that she is alive, and that an elephant will lead him to her. That very night at a performance in the town's opera house, a magician conjures up an elephant (by mistake) that crashes through the roof and cripples the society dame she happens to land on. The lives of the boy, his guardian, and the local policeman, along with the magician and his unfortunate victim, as well as a beggar, his dog, a sculptor, and a nun all intertwine in a series of events triggered by the appearance of the elephant. Miraculous events resolve not only the mystery of the whereabouts of Peter's sister, but also the deeper needs of all of the individuals involved. DiCamillo's carefully crafted prose creates an evocative aura of timelessness for a story that is, in fact, timeless. Tanaka's acrylic artwork is meticulous in detail and aptly matches the tone of the narrative. This is a book that demands to be read aloud.—Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO
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Top customer reviews
"She lives!" - that's what Peter said when the fortuneteller had told him that his sister was not dead and that an elephant would lead him to her. This powerful belief led Peter through a spell-bounding journey where the impossible becomes possible.
A Magician conjures an elephant, which comes crashing through the ceiling of the Opera House. In an imaginary town where there were no elephants. This event was somehow connected to Adele, Peter's sister.
The author develops each character in this story showing all their emotions and imperfections. I think this author is very well in tune with people's emotions and she knows so well how to translate feelings into words. Also she describes imaginary places with such detail and emotion that it feels that you are there. The reader connects with the characters because they have dimension and depth.
I really enjoyed this book most of all because of characters seem real. It is so well written that I felt like reading more of Kate DiCamillo's books. And I did. And I loved them. "( from the kids books review blog IsabelasBookNook.com)
illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
The story begins in the fictional, central European town of Baltese , "At the end of the century before the last". It is clear that there has been a war. There is a pervasive atmosphere of sorrow, want and hopelessness in the setting. Enter the orphan, Peter Augustus Duchene, a fortune teller, a magician "of failing reputation" , and an elephant.What follows is a mysterious, magical story in which hope and faith eventually triumph. The black and white illustrations are subtly evocative, and add much to the magical atmosphere of the story.
I was enchanted with this story. Had I read it as a child, this would have been a five star book for me. However, I was not a typical reader. I think The Magician's Elephant would have limited appeal for the ordinary 8 to 12 year-old. It would find favor with the bright readers who have an early appreciation of good literature. With careful guidance, it might stimulate some good discussion as a read-a-loud.