Friday, January 22, 2010
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
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.
I enjoyed reading this story out loud to my children. The way Ms. DiCamillo strings words and sentences together was, dare I say, lyrical?
She introduced people and animals throughout her magical book that all have something in common; they are affected by an elephant.
A policeman with a large mustache, a Countess, a blind dog, a soldier, an orphaned boy, and many other unique characters in the city of Baltese expect the elephant to "somehow deliver them ... make their wishes and hopes and desires come true".
What if? Why not? are questions that are always a breath away. And the impossible becomes possible.
Ms. DiCamillo introduced new characters throughout the book, almost to the very end. I wondered how each character was part of the story, how each story would weave together and how they would resolve in the end.
I wasn't disappointed. Though, I will admit my children got a little restless waiting to see if Peter found his sister and how the elephant helped. Well, I can't blame it on just the kids. I was anxious for the ending too. But I enjoyed the smooth ride getting there.
"It is, after all, a wonderful thing to dream of an elephant," she said to Leo," and then to have the dream come true."