The Magician’s Elephant

with 2 comments

magicians-elephantThe Magician’s Elephant unfolds as if spoken by a babuska over a hearth and tea. Author Kate DiCamillo evokes Slavic storytelling in her fable of  fortune and magic ensconced in the winter wonderland of Baltese. Peter dreams of his lost sister Adele and resigns himself to a lonely life in servitude to the strange soldier, Vilna Lutz. One day, he encounters a fortune teller who foreshadows that an elephant will lead him to his sister. As predicted, an elephant manifests itself in the town of Baltese at the unsuspecting hands of a magician. The magician’s performance also produces the injury of the aristocratic Madame La Vaughn caused by the cascading creature. The incident forces the magician to repent the rest of his days in prison murmuring, “I intended only lilies”. The Magician’s Elephant reads like Dickensian theatre full of eccentric characters that connect with one another in search of the fantastic and fated discovery of what was lost. There is even a beggar in tattered clothes who serves as a nightingale narrator singing about each passerby. DiCamillo’s writing is mystical and is hauntingly heightened by the story’s gothic backdrop of cathedral spires and snow crested gargoyles. The grey and Pointillist sketches by Yoko Tanaka also contribute to the story’s timelessness, lending their own touch of magic.  ‘What if?’ is a question that belongs to magic”, states the magician. It is also a question that is beautifully explored and answered in The Magician’s Elephant.

Reading level:
Ages 9-12zz4dfc969a

Hardcover: 208 pages

Publisher: Candlewick

ISBN-10: 0763644102

Written by corvusblue

November 6, 2009 at 4:46 am

2 Responses

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  1. nice review, I agree on your “timelessness” — this certainly could have been a fairy tale from way back…

    JK

    June 1, 2010 at 10:33 pm


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