Monday, January 4, 2010

The Magician's Elephant by DiCamillo

DiCamillo, Kate, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. The Magician's Elephant, 201 pgs. Candlewick Press, 2009.
Rating : G for violence, language, and sexual content.
Peter Augustus Duchene, a young orphan boy in the city of Baltese, is sent to the market for fish and bread by his guardian, an old soldier named Vilna Lutz, but when he encounters a fortuneteller, he cannot resist paying for an answer rather than the food he was sent for. He must know if his sister lives, and since the fortuneteller answers that without him even asking, he asks how to find her. He is told, "Follow the elephant." So begins this charming tale about a boy, an aging magician, a elephant conjured in mid-air, the noblewoman Madam Bettine LaVaughn crushed by the falling elephant, a kind policeman Leo Matienne and his wife, Countess Quintet who's jealous of the attention the elephant is getting, and little Adele who dreams of an elephant knocking on the orphanage's door and asking for her. The author claims to have longed to tell a story of love and magic, and that is exactly what we have here. It's lyrical, hopeful, whimsical, and magical. I just hope they don't make it into a movie and ruin the tale.
ELEM - Essential. MS - Optional.
Reviewed by P.K. Foster, teacher-librarian.

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