“The Magician’s Elephant” by Kate DiCamillo
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Fantasy
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
Oh my. I think I’m developing a bit of an ‘author crush’ on Miss DiCamillo. This book was just positively charming. Much like The Tale of Despereaux, this book feels very much like an old fairy tale. Though the book is a fantasy story, DiCamillo tells it in such a way that you really feel like it could happen. As if there was a way to conjure an elephant with magic. If you just hope enough, it could happen.
The story is very sweet and gentle. You can’t help but love it. To me it feels like a timeless story. I could read this to kids 20, 40 years from now and I think they’d enjoy it as much as kids today. The ideas propelling the story (love, hope, magic) aren’t anything new but it’s done in very refreshing way.
The characters aren’t super fantastic or anything but they are very likeable. I wouldn’t say the characters are fully developed but as far as short children’s stories go, you understand them very well.
I love the illustrations in the book. Sadly, I did read it on my Kindle so the illustrations weren’t as great as they could be but they were still lovely. This is a book I’d urge to get your hands on a physical copy.
I could definitely see myself wanting to get lost in this story on a regular basis. Highly recommended for younger readers (and older ones who love good children’s books).