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The Magician's Elephant


The Magician's Elephant Cover

ISBN13: 9780763644109
ISBN10: 0763644102
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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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."

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Judith Claudi-Magnusse, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Judith Claudi-Magnusse)
A touching story. Very imaginative.
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(2 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
Annette P, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Annette P)
The Magician's Elephant reminds us that we must hope and dream, and consider even what seems impossible in order to rise above the challenges that living in our world brings. I enjoyed Kate DiCamillo's tale because she presents these positive ideas simply and eloquently. While most of us are used to saying "why?", she reminds us "why not?" and "what if?". I bought this book as a gift for an adult friend as a Christmas present because I knew that she would appreciate the quality of the storytelling. When I read the first chapter myself, I knew that I had to read it too. Is the story's outcome predictable? Others have stated so in their reviews. I don't think it matters whether or not it is. This story is all about the message: to hope and to trust and to believe in yourself. I think that is the real magic!
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(5 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
The Eager Readers, March 10, 2010 (view all comments by The Eager Readers)
he Magician's Elephant is a sweet tale of hope set in a world colored by grief and monotony. Yoko Tanaka's bleak black and white illustrations are quiet and expressive and seem well-suited to the cold and wintry atmosphere of the story. Readers who liked The Tale of Despereaux may find this book a slower, more-predictable adventure, but they will still enjoy Kate DiCamillo's fable-like prose & her characters filled with heart and hopefulness.

What I liked:
- The quirky cast of characters. Kate DiCamillo has a knack for revealing her character's dreams and fears in a straightforward and touching way, and she succeeds in sharing the key experiences that shaped their personalities & attitudes.
- The idea of an elephant inexplicably crashing through the ceiling of an opera house is explored in a way that reflects both the sadness and the heartfelt wish that precipitated her arrival. That side of the storyline also touches on the lack of compassion in keeping a wild animal in captivity for human entertainment, which I really appreciated.
- Virtually all of the main & supporting character's are compelling in some way & you'll want to see each of their dreams realized and their hopes validated.
- Some of the bit players with the tiniest of rolls were very entertaining. For example, the captain of police and the Countess Quintet play very small rolls, but they are both memorable and amusing.

What I wished:
- The story had been less predictable. Even our five year old was certain about the story's eventual outcome after reading the first couple of chapters. And predictability can be a deal-breaker in our household. Even if the characters are charming or pitiable & the initial concept is unusual, predictability can make a short & relatively entertaining book seem too long. Predictability can also lead us to be overly critical of minor characters who seem unnecessary to the plot as well as any scenes that do not actively drive the plot forward.
- Peter is a tender-hearted young boy who is used to being lonely & quietly grieving for the family he has lost. Those qualities define him & as readers we long for him to find both his sister & a real family, but I wanted to see more layers of Peter's personality explored and more changes becoming evident in him as the story progressed.

I liked The Magician's Elephant and would recommend it to young and old readers alike. It will particularly appeal to readers with a fondness for reaffirming tales of hope and faith. It is populated by characters who have each seen their share of heartbreak and live in a fairly monotonous, gloomy world. But despite their disappointments, many of these individuals maintain a spark of hope and a longing for the seemingly impossible, which ultimately brings them together to explore "What if?" instead of settling for what is.
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Product Details

DiCamillo, Kate
Candlewick Press (MA)
Tanaka, Yoko
Tanaka, Yoko
Cook, Matthew
Resnick, Jacqueline
Brothers and sisters
Adventure and adventurers
Fantasy & Magic
Animals - Elephants
Family - Siblings
Fantasy fiction
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Animals - General
fantasy;magic;orphans;fiction;elephants;family;children s;elephant;brothers and sisters;magicians;hope;children;ya;siblings;animals;adventure;love;fairy tales;children s fiction;children s literature;juvenile fiction;orphan;young adult;magical realism;juv
fantasy;magic;orphans;fiction;elephants;family;children s;elephant;brothers and sisters;magicians;hope;children;ya;siblings;animals;adventure;love;fairy tales;children s fiction;children s literature;juvenile fiction;orphan;young adult;magical realism;juv
fantasy;magic;orphans;fiction;elephants;family;children s;elephant;brothers and sisters;magicians;hope;children;ya;siblings;animals;adventure;love;fairy tales;children s fiction;children s literature;juvenile fiction;orphan;young adult;magical realism;juv
Edition Description:
Misfit Menagerie
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 3 up to 7
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

Children's » Animals » Elephants
Children's » Middle Readers » General
Children's » Reference » Family and Genealogy
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General

The Magician's Elephant Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.50 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Candlewick Press (MA) - English 9780763644109 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Read[s] like a fable told long ago, with rich language that begs to be read aloud....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."
"Review" by , "The profound and deeply affecting emotions at work in the story are buoyed up by the tale's succinct, lyrical text....Tanaka's charming black-and-white acrylic illustrations have a soft, period feel that perfectly matches the tone of this spellbinding story."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "DiCamillo entrances her audience with a group of quaint characters....Thoughtful readers will feel a quiet satisfaction with this almost dainty tale of impossible happenings."
"Review" by , "[T]he prose is remarkable, reflecting influences from Kafka to the theater of the absurd to Laurel-and-Hardy humor....[A]n impressive addition to the DiCamillo canon."
"Synopsis" by , In her eagerly awaited new novel, the Newbery Medal-winning author of The Tale of Despereaux conjures a haunting fable about trusting the unexpected — and making the impossible come true. DiCamillo evokes themes of hope and belonging, desire and compassion. Illustrations.
"Synopsis" by , 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 its 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 magicians touch.

"Synopsis" by ,
Smalls the sun bear and his friends are an unusual bunch. That's why they're known as the Misfit Menagerie. The four oddball animals live on Mr. Mumford's farm, where they play games and do tricks for neighborhood children. It's an idyllic existence--until a cruel circus owner named Claude Magnificence comes to town, and life as they know it ends. The Menagerie is snatched away to a traveling circus, where Claude and his buffoonish sidekicks force them to perform death-defying tricks. 

At the circus, Smalls and his friends only have slop to eat. They live in filthy, cramped cages. And they're bullied by a rough band of trained animals called the Lifers. It's worse than awful--it's despicable! But then young Bertie Magnificence comes along, and he and Smalls form the kind of friendship that inspires hope. They decide that something needs to change...and fast. With the help of an acrobat named Susan, Smalls and Bertie set in motion a heroic plan. 

Can a lonely boy and a misfit bear hoodwink cruel Claude and save an entire circus of captive animals?

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