Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Release: The Magician's Elephant

I'm going to go out on a limb here and name Kate DiCamillo's new children's book, The Magician's Elephant, a classic. I think that this book will be loved by many for years and years to come. It is a beautiful story about the possibility of finding happiness in life.

Peter Augustus Duchene is a young boy who has been raised by a military colleague of his father's after his father dies in battle and his mother dies in childbirth. He is being raised as a young soldier -- living a life of deprivation and order. He has always believed that his baby sister Adele was stillborn and that he is alone in the world but when he visits a fortune teller in town, she reveals that his sister is alive and that he will be able to find her by following the elephant. The fact that there is no elephant in their Eastern European town seems like a sticking point but this is soon remedied when a visiting magician performs the greatest trick of his life and summons an elephant into the local opera house. From this point, it is up to Peter to find his sister and, in her arms, find home.

I will admit to getting tears in my eyes because of the hope and beauty in this book. It has been a long time since I felt such joy while reading. Even when things were bleak, there was a sense of everyday magic that flowed through the story. And I'm not alone. Laura of State of Denmark (where I first heard of this book) felt the same way in her review.
Leo Matienne cleared his throat, once, and then again. He opened his mouth, and spoke two simple words. He said, "What if?"

The magician raised his head then and looked at the policeman. "What if?" he said. "'What if?' is a question that belongs to magic."

"Yes," said Leo, "to magic and also to the world in which we live every day. So: what if? What if you merely tried?"

What if, indeed,

Support our site and buy The Magician's Elephant on Amazon or find it at your local library. We borrowed this book from the library but will be buying our own copy.


  1. Yet another one to add to my list! I was looking at this one the other day and thought it looked interesting. After reading your review, I am definitely going to have to read it!! Thanks!!

  2. I have this on my wishlist. Great review!

  3. I'm reading it now; it's great as was her last book: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

  4. Diane - I haven't read Edward Tulane yet but I definitely will!

  5. It just so happens that I'm spending my day at the Seattle PL today... and that I've been meaning to read DiCamillo for a while now... :D

    Can't wait to hear what you think of her other books.

  6. This book has been popping up a lot on the blogs I follow. I like the cover, too. I'll put it on my wishlist for sure!

  7. Hmm, I have to say I miss the fact that we don't have young children in our house any more. I regret the passing of reading children's literature with my girls.
    I know I could read young peoples material anyway, but there is so much "big people" stuff out there that I want to read.

  8. Al - I'm already feeling a bit sad that we are moving past picture books but luckily we have years of these fantastic youth fiction books. And luckily books like these only take a single afternoon to read so I think it's worth it for the best ones!

  9. Well, that's it. I have to get this.