The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamilloThe Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

The Magician's Elephant

byKate DiCamilloIllustratorYoko Tanaka

Hardcover | September 8, 2009

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In a highly awaited new novel, Kate DiCamillo conjures a haunting fable about trusting the unexpected — and making the extraordinary come true. (Ages 7 and up)

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.
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 Watso...
Title:The Magician's ElephantFormat:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 8.06 × 5.56 × 0.72 inPublished:September 8, 2009Publisher:Candlewick PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0763644102

ISBN - 13:9780763644109

Appropriate for ages: 9 - 12


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book This is such a good book. It has a somber yet hopeful tone and an imaginative story.
Date published: 2017-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Magician's Elephant I loved this book! It was strange and interesting and wonderful all at the same time, and every single word or sentance had a connection later on in the book. It never left pointless bits that are not continued. It also had a great plot, and unwraveled as the story continued, revealing different layers and twists, simular to an onion.
Date published: 2015-09-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awful I absolutely did not lik e this booknat all. Therebwee no details atvall. It would be a good book for a 3 yr od
Date published: 2015-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Awesome book l loved sooooooo much that I read it again !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Date published: 2015-05-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Magical The story was interesting and it was an enjoyable read.
Date published: 2012-08-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Dark, Original, Fairy Tale Reason for Reading: I enjoy the author's books This is an original fairy tale that illustrates that we never know what the future will hold, that dreams should never be given up, and that fate (God's will) eventually does come to pass in it's own time. It is a strange tale though of an elephant crashing through the roof of the opera house as a magician performs a trick. The elephant becomes the centre of the city's attention and becomes orphan Peter's focus as a fortuneteller once told him that an elephant would lead him to his sister, whom he thought was dead. This is a dark tale. The atmosphere is dark, gloomy; the weather is grey and the feelings are of sadness, hopelessness. Topics brought forward are hunger, childlessness, blindness, beggars, cripples, seeking attention and homesickness. But there is always hope, the elephant is a symbol of this, she is a saviour for many though she must suffer silently before she is to leave them. Though the book is dark and sad it has a happy, feel-good ending. I must admit to having a hard time getting into the book though. It starts off so strange, as it is a strange story, and I really wondered just what it was all about and whether children would actually "get" it. But the further I read on the more I became attached to the characters and became invested in the plot. For children, I think those that will most appreciate the book are the ones who have grown up on a steady diet of fairy tales, the real unaltered original tales, and are used to this type of dark fairy tale.
Date published: 2011-08-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Eloquent childrens novel This is the charming tale of a young orphan, Peter, who chooses to follow his heart. A fortune-teller advises Peter that his sister is alive, and that the Elephant will help him to locate her. Believed to be dead for 7 years, Peter knows his sister Adele is alive, regardless of how many times his guardian says otherwise. He believes what the Fortune-teller has said. The Elephant magically appears in town one night, and becomes the center of attention. However she is kept secluded and no-one can get close to her. Peter, with the help of a neighbour sets out on a mission to reach the elephant, with the hopes of also finding Adele.
Date published: 2009-11-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Charming! In Kate Dicamillo's The Magician's Elephant, we are taken on a journey of a brother searching for his lost sister. Peter Augustus Duchene is orphaned and is living with Vilna Lutz a soldier who was injured in the war. Peter remembers that when he was young his mother died during childbirth while having his sister. After questioning Vilna Lutz, Peter discovers that his sister is alive and was not stillborn as he was originally told. Peter embarks on a journey to find her that includes a magician, an elephant, a police officer and many other colourful characters. I love how Kate Dicamillo weaves a story with rich characters and that somehow they all are vital to eachother. I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 10 years old. I great little gem.
Date published: 2009-09-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fantastic Read! I loved this latest book by Kate DiCamillo. Peter is a lovely character who asks a fortuneteller a question and receives an answer to absurd to be true. Great for children 10 and up who are strong readers!
Date published: 2009-09-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Absolutely Kate DiCamillo Even without an authors name I could have told you who wrote this lovely fable. It is so similar in tone and phrasing to Tale of Despereaux & the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I didn't find the storyline grabbed me or entertained me as much as her other two fables, but the master class in writing beautifully for children is still there.
Date published: 2009-07-18

Read from the Book

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."

Editorial Reviews

Kate DiCamillo has a gift, inequitably distributed among writers of all kinds, of eliminating the obvious and still egging on the reader. She writes beautifully but thinks simply. The purity of her prose – the reader goes from paragraph to paragraph delighting in the wonderful simple sentences – only adds to the winsome purity of her vision.—New York Times Book ReviewDiCamillo’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.—School Library Journal (starred review)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.—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)From the unexpectedly miraculous feats of a two-bit illusionist to the transformative powers of love, forgiveness, and a good mutton stew, there is much magic afoot in this fable-like tale… The profound and deeply affecting emotions at work in the story are buoyed up by the tale’s succinct, lyrical text, gentle touches of humor, and uplifting message of redemption, hope, and the interminable power of asking ‘what if?—Booklist (starred review)Thoughtful readers will feel a quiet satisfaction with this almost dainty tale of impossible happenings.—VOYADiCamillo’s allegorical novel seems to pack more mass per square inch than average. The plot is fantastical, surreal…And the prose is remarkable, reflecting influences from Kafka to the theater of the absurd to Laurel-and-Hardy humor.—The Horn BookThe mannered prose and Tanaka's delicate, darkly hued paintings give the story a somber and old-fashioned feel. The absurdist elements—street vendors peddle chunks of the now-infamous opera house ceiling with the cry “Possess the plaster of disaster!”—leaven the overall seriousness, and there is a happy if predictable ending for the eccentric cast of anguished characters, each finding something to make them whole.—Publishers WeeklyKate DiCamillo tells a tale of ‘hope, redemption, faith, love, and believing in the impossible’ with her usual quiet elegant prose.—Library Media ConnectionTanaka’s shadowy, evocative acrylic paintings echo the dreamy nature of the storytelling and add a surprising amount of solidity (and a particularly nice elephant).—Bulletin of the Center of Children’s BooksWith its rhythmic sentences and fairy-tale tone, this novel yields solitary pleasures but begs to be read aloud. Hearing it in a shared space can connect us, one to one, regardless of age, much like the book's closing image: a small stone carving, hands linked, of the elephant's friends.—Washington Post Book WorldThough DiCamillo's first success was with realistic fiction, she has since explored fantasy, here looking at how individuals and society take an impossible event into their narrative of the way the world is. Is it broken or fixable by those who embrace the unusual?—Chicago TribuneDiCamillo's elegant, evocative prose underpins the otherworldliness of Baltese, a place where a long-accepted truth can be shattered as easily as an elephant crashes through the opera-house ceiling.—Austin American-StatesmanReaders willing to venture a little deeper into the darkness will be reassured and rewarded by the singular sense of hope that nearly glows from DiCamillo's prose, and from the incandescent illustrations created by Yoko Tanaka.—Minneapolis Star TribuneThe power of DiCamillo’s writing enables the hope and determination of the characters to break through the gloom that penetrates the story...DiCamillo has again captured the loneliness and unwavering optimism that can only be found in children.—ForewordUsing short yet powerful sentences and cinematic descriptions, DiCamillo creates another emotion-swelling gem in what is becoming an impressive crown of work.—Cleveland Plain DealerLyrical language and many interesting characters make this a wonderful read aloud book or one to be savored alone.—Kansas City StarBringing all these characters together for a happy ending requires its own special magic, which is enhanced by DiCamillo's finely rendered Old World writing style — and the gorgeously muted pencil illustrations of Los Angeles artist Yoko Tanaka.—Los Angeles TimesA fairy tale, a mystery, a truly magical story of love and hope that will captivate readers young and old.—Christian Science MonitorFeatured/recommended—Florida Times-Union on Jacksonville.comFeatured/recommended on Oprah's 2012 Kids Reading List—