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The Magician's Elephant

The Magician's Elephant
By Kate DiCamillo

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Average customer review:
(332 customer reviews)

Product Description

In a highly awaited new novel, Kate DiCamillo conjures a haunting fable about trusting the unexpected — and making the extraordinary 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 themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #68905 in Books
  • Brand: Candlewick Press
  • Published on: 2009-09-08
  • Released on: 2009-09-08
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 7.98" h x .78" w x 5.61" l, .68 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 208 pages


  • Great product!

Editorial Reviews 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 School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 4–6—On a perfectly ordinary day, Peter Augustus Duchene goes to the market square of the city of Baltese. Instead of buying the fish and bread that his guardian, Vilna Lutz, has asked him to procure, he uses the coin to pay a fortune-teller to get information about his sister, whom he believes to be dead. He is told that she is alive, and that an elephant will lead him to her. That very night at a performance in the town's opera house, a magician conjures up an elephant (by mistake) that crashes through the roof and cripples the society dame she happens to land on. The lives of the boy, his guardian, and the local policeman, along with the magician and his unfortunate victim, as well as a beggar, his dog, a sculptor, and a nun all intertwine in a series of events triggered by the appearance of the elephant. Miraculous events resolve not only the mystery of the whereabouts of Peter's sister, but also the deeper needs of all of the individuals involved. DiCamillo'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. This is a book that demands to be read aloud.—Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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)

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
5I really enjoyed this book most of all because of characters seem ...
Review by a 9 year-old kid who loves K. DiCamillo's books:
"She lives!" - that's what Peter said when the fortuneteller had told him that his sister was not dead and that an elephant would lead him to her. This powerful belief led Peter through a spell-bounding journey where the impossible becomes possible.
A Magician conjures an elephant, which comes crashing through the ceiling of the Opera House. In an imaginary town where there were no elephants. This event was somehow connected to Adele, Peter's sister.
The author develops each character in this story showing all their emotions and imperfections. I think this author is very well in tune with people's emotions and she knows so well how to translate feelings into words. Also she describes imaginary places with such detail and emotion that it feels that you are there. The reader connects with the characters because they have dimension and depth.
I really enjoyed this book most of all because of characters seem real. It is so well written that I felt like reading more of Kate DiCamillo's books. And I did. And I loved them. "( from the kids books review blog

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
4Magical for select readers
By JGrace
The Magician's Elephant - Kate Dicamillo
illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
4 stars

The story begins in the fictional, central European town of Baltese , "At the end of the century before the last". It is clear that there has been a war. There is a pervasive atmosphere of sorrow, want and hopelessness in the setting. Enter the orphan, Peter Augustus Duchene, a fortune teller, a magician "of failing reputation" , and an elephant.What follows is a mysterious, magical story in which hope and faith eventually triumph. The black and white illustrations are subtly evocative, and add much to the magical atmosphere of the story.
I was enchanted with this story. Had I read it as a child, this would have been a five star book for me. However, I was not a typical reader. I think The Magician's Elephant would have limited appeal for the ordinary 8 to 12 year-old. It would find favor with the bright readers who have an early appreciation of good literature. With careful guidance, it might stimulate some good discussion as a read-a-loud.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
5Kate DiCamillo has a magic way with words
By Amazon Customer
Kate DiCamillo is by far one of my favorite children's authors. A preview of this book is in the end of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and it had us hooked. (We've read Edward Tulane several times -- a GREAT read). The best part about all of her books is that there is a deep meaning to all of them, and they deal with tough issues like loss and the complications of family love/bonds, but when there are things like elephants magically appearing, it keeps the kids greatly interested. This book tells the tale from many different view points. I'm not sure the exact reading level, but I imagine this would be hard for an 8-9 year old to read on their own. However, it is such a great story that I recommend reading it out loud as a family anyway.

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