The Magician's Elephant

By Kate Dicamillo
Binding:Hardcover
Publisher:Candlewick, (9/8/2009)
Language:English



Average Rating:
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5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)


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In her eagerly awaited new novel, Kate DiCamillo conjures a haunting fable about trusting the unexpected — and making the impossible come true.

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 themeshope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.
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ReneeT's thoughts on "The Magician's Elephant"
updated on:5/28/2009



DEFINITELY Unleash it


"The Magician's Elephant"
By Kate Dicamillo

Average Rating:
DEFINITELY Unleash it
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)


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The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 
 
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Amazon.com Review
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 Kirkus Reviews
*Starred Review* Ages 8-13. Ten-year-old Peter Augustus Duchene goes to the market for fish and bread but spends it at the fortuneteller's tent instead. Seeking his long-lost sister, Peter is told, "You must follow the elephant. She will lead you there." And that very night at the Bliffenendorf Opera House, a magician's spell goes awry, conjuring an elephant that crashes through the ceiling and lands on Madam Bettine LaVaughn. Reading like a fable told long ago, with rich language that begs to be read aloud, this is a magical story about hope and love, loss and home, and of questioning the world versus accepting it as it is. Brilliant imagery juxtaposes "glowering and resentful" gargoyles and snow, stars and the glowing earth, and Tanaka's illustrations (not all seen) bring to life the city and characters from "the end of the century before last." A quieter volume than The Tale of Despereaux (2003) and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (2006), this has an equal power to haunt readers long past the final page. (Fantasy. Ages 8-13) 

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Peter stood in the small patch of light making its sullen way through the open flap of the tent. He let the fortuneteller take his hand. She examined it closely, moving her eyes back and forth and back and forth, as if there a whole host of very small words inscribed there, an entire book about Peter Augustus Duchene composed atop his palm.

"Huh," she said at last. She dropped his hand and squinted up at his face. "But, of course, you are just a boy." 

"I am ten years old," said Peter. He took the hat from his head and stood as straight and tall as he was able. "And I am training to become a soldier, brave and true. But it does not matter how old I am. You took the florit, so now you must give me my answer."

"A soldier brave and true?" said the fortuneteller. She laughed and spat on the ground. "Very well, soldier brave and true, if you say it is so, then it is so. Ask me your question."

Peter felt a small stab of fear. What if after all this time he could not bear the truth? What if he did not really want to know?

"Speak," said the fortuneteller. "Ask." 

"My parents," said Peter. 

"That is your question?" said the fortuneteller. "They are dead." 

Peter's hands trembled. "That is not my question," he said. "I know that already. You must tell me something that I do not know. You must tell me of another — you must tell me . . ."

The fortuneteller narrowed her eyes. "Ah," she said. "Her? Your sister? That is your question? Very well. She lives."

Peter's heart seized upon the words. She lives. She lives! 

"No, please," said Peter. He closed his eyes. He concentrated. "If she lives, then I must find her, so my question is, how I do I make my way there, to where she is?"

He kept his eyes closed; he waited. 

"The elephant," said the fortuneteller. 

"What?" he said. He opened his eyes, certain that he had misunderstood. 

"You must follow the elephant," said the fortuneteller, "she will lead you there."

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Kate DiCamillo is the author of THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, which was awarded the Newbery Medal; THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, winner of a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award; BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, a Newbery Honor winner; THE TIGER RISING, a National Book Award Finalist; the picture book GREAT JOY; and five books starring Mercy Watson, including a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. She lives in Minneapolis.


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