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The Magician's Elephant

A book by Kate DiCamillo

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Lovely and Not for Younger Children (a review of The Magician's Elephant)

  • Sep 17, 2009
  • by
I very much liked this book just as I very much like all of Kate DiCamillo's works for older children. It has depth and feeling and a dark mood that calls for internal reflection. (Similar to what one finds in Edward Tulane, and to an extent the Tale of Desperaux.)

The story starts out with Peter, an orphan who is living with a military man of dubious sanity and health. But it quickly unfolds to be more complex, becoming in the end a book that is not just about one character, but many.

There is Peter the primary actor, and his tormented mentor, Vilna Lutz. But also the police officer, Leo Matienne, and the stone mason, the grand dames, the nun and so many more, There is Adele a young orphan girl, and even the elephant, who miraculous crashes down in the opera house during a magic show. A show that should have been of no importance but which altered the lives of a city.

There being so many people is not insignificant. Because this book is not about individuals, but about life. About relationships and how they define us, and how we define them. Essentially so many aspects of love and hope were exposed that I was reminded of a Zen koan. There is just so much to think about, so much to contemplate.

So ultimately, in my opinion, The Magician's Elephant is not a book for children. (I didn't even attempt to read it to my 7 and 9 year olds) Or at least not young children. It is, however, a wonderful thought provoking book for adults and for teens who are ready to examine life.

**4.5 Stars**

Pam T~
mom and reviewer at BooksforKids-reviews

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More The Magician's Elephant reviews
review by . October 16, 2009
Peter Augustus Duchene is a ten year old orphan who is undergoing training to become a soldier like his father before him. When his guardian, sends him out to buy some fish and bread at the Baltese market square, he sees a fortune teller tent and decides that answers to his questions are far more important than eating stale bread. Instead he pays the fortune teller to answer a most pressing question... is his sister alive, and if so, how can he find her. See Peter was told that his sister died at …
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Pam Tee ()
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Member Since: Nov 24, 2008
Last Login: Oct 11, 2012 10:44 AM UTC
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Amazon Best of the Month, September 2009:Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo--author ofThe Tale of DespereauxandThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane-- has crafted another exquisite novel for young readers.The Magician's Elephanttells 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 
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ISBN-10: 0763644102
ISBN-13: 978-0763644109
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Genre: Children's Books
Publisher: Candlewick
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