The Magician's Elephant

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When ten-year-old orphan Peter Augustus Duchene encounters a fortune teller in the marketplace one day and she tells him that his sister, who is presumed dead, is in fact alive, he embarks on a remarkable series of adventures as he desperately tries to find her.

2009 Parents' Choice Recommended Seal winner

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The Magician's Elephant

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When ten-year-old orphan Peter Augustus Duchene encounters a fortune teller in the marketplace one day and she tells him that his sister, who is presumed dead, is in fact alive, he embarks on a remarkable series of adventures as he desperately tries to find her.

2009 Parents' Choice Recommended Seal winner

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

When a fortuneteller sets up shop in the market square of Baltese, one earnest young man is among her first customers. Peter Augustus Duchene doesn't dawdle over his romantic future or his past lives; he wants to know whether his sister lives and, if so, can he bring her safety. The fortuneteller's answers are puzzling. She assures him that an elephant will lead him to his beloved lost sibling, a promise that leaves him waiting for a solution that might not come. An absorbing story about hope and persistence by the Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. Now in paperback and NOOKbook.

Mary Quattlebaum
Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo tells a timeless tale as "strange and lovely and promising" as her title character. The occasional illustrations, too, are dreamlike and magical. In delicate shades of gray, Yoko Tanaka's acrylics convey the city's low wintry light and the mood of a place haunted by a recent, unnamed war. With its rhythmic sentences and fairy-tale tone, this novel yields solitary pleasures but begs to be read aloud. Hearing it in a shared space can connect us, one to one, regardless of age, much like the book's closing image: a small stone carving, hands linked, of the elephant's friends.
—The Washington Post
Adam Gopnik
DiCamillo writes here in a register entirely her own, catching not the whimsical-fabulous note of earlier masters for young readers, nor the jokey-realistic one that has too often taken its place, but instead a mood of sober magic that unfolds into something that can be called, without pejorative, "sentimental," meaning straightforward and heartfelt. The style may evoke Calvino, but the substance belongs to Christmas…the magic of DiCamillo's stories is that while they have the dignity of literature, they're never unduly "literary." Young readers are caught up in the fable before they know they are being fabulized at, trapped in the poetry of the allegory without any idea that allegories are set as traps by authors.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In DiCamillo's fifth novel, a clairvoyant tells 10-year-old Peter, an orphan living with a brain-addled ex-soldier, that an elephant will lead him to his sister, who the ex-soldier claims died at birth. The fortuneteller's prediction seems cruelly preposterous as there are no pachyderms anywhere near Baltese, a vaguely eastern European city enduring a bitter winter. Then that night at the opera house, a magician “of advanced years and failing reputation” attempts to conjure a bouquet of lilies but instead produces an elephant that crashes through the ceiling. Peter learns that both magician and beast have been jailed, and upon first glimpse of the imprisoned elephant, Peter realizes that his fate and the elephant's are linked. The mannered prose and Tanaka's delicate, darkly hued paintings give the story a somber and old-fashioned feel. The absurdist elements—street vendors peddle chunks of the now-infamous opera house ceiling with the cry “Possess the plaster of disaster!”—leaven the overall seriousness, and there is a happy if predictable ending for the eccentric cast of anguished characters, each finding something to make them whole. Ages 8–13. (Sept.)
VOYA - Pam Carlson
I intended only lilies. In a small 1890-something European village, an anonymous traveling magician changes lives forever when a simple trick goes tragically wrong. Instead of lovely flowers, a full-grown elephant falls through the ceiling of the theater, landing on a woman and crushing her legs. At almost the same moment, young Peter hears from a fortuneteller that Adele, the sister he had been told was dead is actually alive and that an elephant would reunite them. DiCamillo entrances her audience with a group of quaint characters to accompany Peter and Adele on their journey back to one another—a crippled carver of gargoyles, an embittered soldier, a childless policeman and his wife, and a noblewoman who insists on housing the elephant in her ballroom. Each plays a valuable role in the others' lives as individual answers to the question, "What if?" become clear. Tanaka's pencil illustrations in shades of gray portray the characters as stiff and angular, almost marionette-like in appearance, they but are an oddly agreeable match for the fantastical events. Thoughtful readers will feel a quiet satisfaction with this almost dainty tale of impossible happenings. Reviewer: Pam Carlson
Children's Literature - K. Meghan Robertson
From the author of The Tale of Despereaux comes this fantasy about a little ten-year old orphan named Peter Augustus Duchene. Peter lives with an old soldier named Vilna Lutz who trains Peter in military skills while simultaneously going crazy. Peter's life begins to change when he takes a risk. He spends the one coin Vilna Lutz gave him to spend at the market on a fortuneteller's reading. Peter longs to know about his family. Although his parents are deceased, the fortuneteller alerts him that his sister Adele lives. Peter has been told she was dead at birth. Peter is delighted and shocked and doubtful, particularly when the fortuneteller says Peter can find Adele by following the elephant. He says, "There are no elephants here," to which the teller responds, "That is surely the truth, at least for now. But perhaps you have noticed: the truth is forever changing." With that new understanding of life, Peter goes home. All is well for the people in Baltese—right up until a magician produces an elephant through the roof of the opera house when trying to create a bouquet! When this news reaches Peter, he journeys to find the elephant, which has been bought and housed by the Countess so she can return to the center of everyone's attention. Follow Peter as he seeks Adele. Discover the power of hope and imagination. Reviewer: K. Meghan Robertson
School Library Journal
Gr 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
Kirkus Reviews
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. 8-13)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—When a fortuneteller informs Peter Augustus Duchene, a 10-year-old orphan, that his younger sister is alive, a magical tale unfolds, interweaving the lives of unusual of characters including an elephant that inexplicably crashes through the roof of the opera house as a result of a magic trick gone wrong. This sometimes mysterious and shadowy, but ultimately hopeful tale reminds us that even in the darkest of times, all is not lost. Written by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo, this superb tale (Candlewick, 2009) is another example of her exceptional storytelling skills. Juliet Stevenson brings the haunting tale to life with a brilliant repertoire of voices that creates the illusion of a multicast performance. This tale is meant to be listened to and is sure to be appreciated and treasured by listeners.—Amy Joslyn, Fairport Public Library, NY
The Barnes & Noble Review
What kind of children's book can make a grown man cry? This one.

When I asked what made my friend Matt cry, I was told by his wife, ?Well, it was the part when...? No, not when, what? Why? Why this story? ?Well it's about forgiveness, it's about redemption.? Wait a minute...I thought it was about hope. It is.

If there is a DiCamillo signature style it is that she trusts the reader to find the story, to make their own meaning. She came out of the gate a champion, garnering a Newbery Honor for her first book Because of Winn Dixie. The Tale of Despereaux won the Newbery Medal, the highest award in children's fiction. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane was a National Book Award finalist and stirred up quite a controversy in children's literature circles because of its main character, a self-centered china rabbit on a downward spiral.

Children do not need to be convinced of DiCamillo's magic. Each book, from the slapstick humor of the toast-obsessed pig Mercy Watson to the painfully complicated lives of the early adolescents of Tiger Rising, casts a spell.

I have always felt that adults could, should, and would enjoy her novels for their lyrical language and for their multilayered texts. All of DiCamillo's books tackle big themes -- love, friendship, loyalty, commitment, redemption and courage. I have pressed copies of Because of Winn Dixie into the hands of many adult friends and acquaintances. My husband once leaped from a restaurant in mid-meal to buy a copy from a nearby bookstore, convinced that our friend should not leave the table without it.

The Magician's Elephant is most reminiscent of the timeless works of Hans Christian Andersen, set in an artfully familiar, vaguely European storybook village. In this ?once-upon-a- time? land, there lives an orphaned boy, Peter Augustus Duchene, who resides with an old soldier in an attic room above the home of a childless policeman and his wife. There is a beggar with a blind dog, a nun who sits at the door of an orphanage, a girl who lives at the orphanage, and an imperious countess. There is also a magician who dreams of greatness, a stone carver, a noblewoman, and of course, the elephant from the title. With her economy of language and dry wit, DiCamillo seamlessly weaves these seemingly disparate denizens together to create her tale's tapestry.

Although the phrase ?cognitive dissonance? would mean nothing to most ten-year-olds, there is no child who has not wrestled with the uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. DiCamillo begins her tale with the protagonist in the throes of such agony. A fortune teller has told him that the infant sister he had thought was dead is alive.

If Peter Augustus Duchene believed that his sister Adele was alive then he had been lied to by his guardian, the soldier Vilna Lutz. But the honorable man who raised him must have been telling the truth. Yet, as he lay in bed that night, his thoughts chase each other:

He lies; she lies; he lies; she lies. Someone lies, I know not who. If she lies, I am a fool but if he lies, my sister is alive. His heart thumped. If he lies, then Adele lives. "I hope he lies." said Peter aloud to the darkness. And his heart, started at such treachery, astonished at the voicing aloud of such an unsoldierly sentiment, thumped again, much harder this time.

Across town, a ?magician of advanced years and failing reputation performed the most astonishing magic of his career.? This mediocre performer astonishes himself as well as the audience when he conjures a living elephant that crashes through the ceiling of the opera house, crushing a noblewoman's legs. ?The magician stood next to the enormous beast and gloried in the smell of her -- dried apples, moldy paper, dung." Later, he repeatedly claims that he meant only to produce lilies.

The plot arises out of these interlocking mysteries with an effortless urgency -- will Peter find his sister? Will the magician be imprisoned forever? Will the elephant ever find her way home? As we anxiously witness the unfolding events, a refrain is heard from the young policeman. Leo Matienne asks repeatedly these unanswerable questions, ?What if? Why not? Could it be??

And here we are again with my friend Matt. The main theme of the book, implicit in Leo's poignant "Why not?," is hope -- hope in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Early on Peter decides that ?that it is a terrible and complicated thing to hope, and that it might be easier, instead, to despair.? Yet in the fine tradition of the fairy tale, there are convenient coincidences and friends found in unlikely places that spark a bit of hope.

As in her prior works, DiCamillo does much more than spin a tale -- she begs us to not give up, to see beyond the fear and distress of the moment and to resist the temptation to throw up our hands ten minutes before the miracle happens. She shows that forgiveness comes when we to bravely own up to our very human failings, that we are trapped in our misery if we are like the magician who cannot admit that he really did want to perform an astounding feat.

DiCamillo's prose remains masterfully evocative, painting such clear images in the mind that one would think illustrations superfluous. But Yoko Tamaka's paintings accompanying the text accentuate the fairy-tale atmosphere, helping establish an otherworldly -- not now, not then -- dreamlike feeling. The pleasures of the book as a physical object, delightful to hold and behold, have not been scanted either. How wonderful it is in this age of digital delivery, to revel in the comfortingly old-fashioned typeface set on heavy stock.

Matt the grown-up reader was right. The Magician's Elephant is a profound work of hope and redemption -- a story about regaining what was lost and about forgiveness. Children will enjoy a magical tale, and grown-ups will discover a spiritual one. They both will find exactly what they need. --Lisa Von Drasek

Lisa Von Drasek is the children's Librarian at the Bank Street College of Education. Her reviews and commentary have appeared in School Library Journal, The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, The Bark, Knowledge Quest, Teaching K-8, Nick Jr., and more.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763644109
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/8/2009
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 252,588
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo is the author of THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, which was awarded the Newbery Medal; THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, winner of a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award; BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, a Newbery Honor winner; THE TIGER RISING, a National Book Award Finalist; the picture book GREAT JOY; and five books starring Mercy Watson, including a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. She lives in Minneapolis.

Yoko Tanaka is a graduate of the Art Center College in Pasadena, California. She is the illustrator of THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS by R. L. LaFevers, and SPARROW GIRL by Sara Pennypacker. Yoko Tanaka lives in Los Angeles and Bangkok.


Kate DiCamillo was born in Philadelphia, moved to Florida's warmer climate when she was five years old, and landed in Minneapolis in her 20s.

While working at a children's bookstore, DiCamillo wrote her first novel, Because of Winn-Dixie (2000). It was inspired by one of the worst winters in Minnesota, when she became homesick for Florida after overhearing a little girl with a southern accent. One thing led to another, and soon DiCamillo had created the voice of Opal Buloni, a resilient ten-year-old girl who has just moved to a small town in Florida with her father. Opal's mother abandoned the family when she was three years old, and her father has a hard time explaining why.

Though her father is busy and she has no friends, Opal's life takes a turn for the better when she adopts a fun-loving stray dog, Winn-Dixie (named after the supermarket where she found him, out in the parking lot). With Winn-Dixie as her guide, Opal makes friends with the eccentric people of her new town and even convinces her father to talk about her mother. Through Opal, readers are given a gift: a funny and heartrending story of how one girl's spirit can change her life and others'. Critics loved the book as much as readers, and in 2001, Because of Winn-Dixie was named a Newbery Honor Book.

DiCamillo's second novel, The Tiger Rising (2001), also deals with the importance of friendships, families, and making changes. Twelve-year-old Rob Horton and his father are dealing with grief, anger, and isolation after moving to Lister, Florida, six months after Rob's mother succumbs to cancer. Rob's father has a job at a motel (where they both also live), but it barely pays the bills. Struggling through the loss of his mother, Rob stifles his many confusing emotions as he battles bullies at his new school, worries about a rash on his legs, and copes with living in poverty.

In many ways, The Tiger Rising is a darker, more challenging story than Because of Winn-Dixie, but there is a similar light of deliverance in this beautiful novel: the healing power of friendship. Two meetings change Rob's life. First, he encounters a caged lion in the woods. Shortly thereafter he meets Sistine, who has recently moved to Lister after her parents' divorce. Sistine and Rob are polar opposites -- she stands up to the school bullies and lets out every bit of her anger at her parents' divorce and her relocation. Through Sistine, Rob recognizes himself in the caged lion, and the story of how the two children free the beast is one of the most engaging reads in contemporary young adult fiction. With the lion free, Rob is free to grieve the loss of his mother and move on with his bittersweet new life in Lister. A National Book Award finalist, The Tiger Rising is hard to put down as it overflows with raw, engaging emotion.

In 2003, DiCamillo's third novel, The Tale of Despereaux, was released to the delight of readers and critics alike. This odd but enthralling fairy tale also touches on some of the topics from her first two novels -- parental abandonment and finding the courage to be yourself. The hero, Despereaux Tilling, is a mouse who has always been different from the rest of his family, and to make matters worse, he has broken a serious rule: interacting with humans, particularly Princess Pea, who captures his heart. When Despereaux finds himself in trouble with the mouse community, he is saddened to learn that his father will not defend him. Characters in the tale are Princess Pea, whose mother died after seeing a rat in her soup; King Pea, who, in his grief, declares that no soup may be served anywhere in the kingdom; Miggery Sow, a servant girl who dreams of being a princess after being sold into servitude by her father after her mother dies; and Roscuro, a villainous rat with a curious soup obsession.

The story of how the characters' paths cross makes The Tale of Despereaux an adventurous read, reminiscent of Grimm's fairy tales. In the spirit of love and forgiveness, Despereaux changes everyone's life, including his own. As the unnamed, witty narrator of the novel tells us, "Every action, reader, no matter how small, has a consequence." Kate DiCamillo's limitless imagination and her talent for emotional storytelling earned her one of the most prestigious honors a children's author can receive -- in 2004, she was awarded the Newbery Medal.

Good To Know

DiCamillo wrote The Tale of Despereaux for a friend's son, who had asked her to write a story for him about a hero with large ears.

In our interview, DiCamillo shared some other fun facts with us: :

"I can't cook and I'm always on the lookout for a free meal."

"I love dogs and I'm an aunt to a very bad dog named Henry."

"My first job was at McDonald's. I was overjoyed when I got a nickel raise."

"I'm a pretty boring person. I like reading. I like eating dinner out with friends. I like walking Henry. And I like to laugh."

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    1. Hometown:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 25, 1964
    2. Place of Birth:
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, University of Florida at Gainesville, 1987

Read an Excerpt

The Magician's Elephant

By Kate DiCamillo
Copyright © 2009

Kate DiCamillo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780763644109

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 isnot 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.”


Excerpted from The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo Copyright © 2009 by Kate DiCamillo. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

Q & A with Author Kate DiCamillo about her new novel The Magician's Elephant

Q. What is your definition of magic? What has happened in your life that is magical or unexpected?

A. I guess my definition of magic is something very close to the definition the magician gives toward the end of the story: "Magic is always impossible. It begins with the impossible and ends with the impossible and is impossible in between. That is why it is magic." I would add, though, that while magic is impossible from beginning to end, it is also possible. Somehow (who knows how?) the impossible gets turned into the possible. That's magic.
Which leads very nicely into the next part of this question: What has happened in my life that is magical or unexpected? Telling stories seems like magic to me; it seems both impossible and possible in that same way. And what has happened to me and my stories - people reading them, liking them, and me getting to make my living telling them - well, talk about unexpected. Talk about magical.

Q. The Magician's Elephant features an animal character. This is a common theme in your novels. Why an elephant this time?

A. I didn't think, Oh boy, I'm going to put an elephant in a story. I guess it happened this way: The story began for me with the magician and the fact that he wanted to perform real magic, true magic. That magician appeared before me in the lobby of a hotel in New York City. I had, in my satchel, a notebook that I was going to give as a gift to someone. The notebook had an elephant on the cover. And when I went into my bag to get my notebook to write a description of the magician I had just caught sight of,I happened to see that other notebook, the one with a picture of an elephant on the front of it.

Q. Was there a specific place that inspired the setting for the city of Baltese?

A. No, but after I finished writing The Magician's Elephant, I saw a movie that took place in Bruges, and I couldn't concentrate at all on what was happening in the movie
because I was so struck by how much Bruges looked like the city of Baltese, the city I had imagined.

Q. The fortuneteller tells Peter that "truth is forever changing." Why is this an important line in the story, and why did you want to share it with children in general?

A. I think this comes back to the whole idea of the impossible suddenly becoming the possible. We have to remain open to those moments when everything can change. I actually think that children are much better at doing this than adults are because they are much less likely to see things in a black-and-white way. All of us, children and adults, need to remind ourselves that the impossible can become possible. That's one of the great gifts of stories.

Q.What was your predominant feeling while writing this book? Was it faith, or fear? Do you know how your endings will turn out when you start?

A. Oh, I'm always afraid when I'm writing. And I never know how things will turn out. This time around it was particularly terrifying because there were so many different balls up in the air, and I had no idea how I would catch them all. But even though I was terrified, I was also, in a strange and wonderful way, healed by the telling of this story. I got out of my own way and let the story tell me how it would all come together. At the same time, I felt something come together, kind of knit itself, inside of me.

Q. How do you feel about the illustrations? Have you ever met Yoko Tanaka?

A. I think the illustrations are an astonishment, a wonder, a marvel. They literally take my breath away. They are haunting and otherworldly and just exactly right. I have never met Yoko, no. And yet she painted the world I imagined.

Q. Isn't that strange and wonderful?

A. Impossible, but true.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 327 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 331 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2009

    The Magicians Elephant is a magical book

    The Magician's Elephant
    By: Kate Dicamillo

    Peter is just trying to get the answer to the simple question, "Does she live?" What Peter does not know is that this one question will lead him on a search for his missing sister. His mom trusted him to keep his sister safe but the he had to let her go. On an errand he found a fortuneteller and asked her. The fortuneteller said to follow the elephant. Then when an unexpected visitor comes to town, peter figures out the way.

    The suspenseful chapters make you feel like you cannot put the book down. The clever descriptions draw a very clear picture in your mind. It is easy to see the gloomy snow covered days that spread across the town day after day and the beggar with his black dog Iddo. The elephant, magician, and Madam La Vaughn, all play very important rolls to help tell the reader that you can trust others. All these characters join together to help the elephant go home and Peter find his sister. It was very difficult for Madam to help and join with the magician that crippled her legs. What does she choose?

    (Published by candlewick press, copyright 2009)
    Recommended for ages 7 - 12

    12 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    left wondering

    i truly loved her tales of despereaux how ever this does not compare. the book has words too difficult for children and some adults. the sentences are too repetitive and do not catch attention. the story is dry and drags on. i am truly sadden especially after reading a book as great as despereaux. :(

    11 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2009

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    awesome awesome awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

    i loved this book i read it like 10 times lol i loved the tale of desperaux so i thought "hey i guess i will read this one too" well good thing i did haha. i think this book is good for ppl at the ages of about 7 to 11 0r 12

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2009

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    Pulling a winner out of the hat

    A heartfelt, timeless fable about the power of wonder and the magic of "What if?". DiCamillo's been working in the style of faux fairytale since Desperaux, and the lessons she's learned in her previous books help here: she keeps it short, sweet, and to the point. I feel, as the people of Baltese say, as though I were in the presence of the elephant.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009

    Hope, Belonging, Forgiveness

    Kate DiCamillo has written another outstanding book! The Magician's Elephant is a story about hope, belonging, and forgiveness. One can easily identify with each character in her book and their struggles in life! A little boy longs to find his "lost" sister and to belong to someone and be loved. A childless couple longs to have children. A magician longs to be recognized and noticed for extraordinary magic. An elephant who is "homesick" longs to return home. All of us want to feel loved, noticed, and that we "belong" to someone. This is what makes us human. Kate DiCamillo not only appeals to children, but to adults as well. This book was a page turner and I read it in one day!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2009

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    What if ... Why Not ... Could it Be?

    Kate DiCamillo's newest novel the Magician's Elephant is a hauntingly beautiful tale with rich characters that focus on hope and making the impossible possible. The mood lavishly set with DiCamillo's writing style and Yoko Tanaka's brilliant illustrations.

    Young Peter lives with an old soldier that knew his father when they were in battle together. When sent to the market to get bread and fish, Peter uses his only money to ask a fortuneteller if his sister is still alive. He receives a mysterious answer about following an elephant and is shocked to later discover an elephant was conjured up accidentally by a magician during his recent performance. With the help of a policeman named Leo, Peter sets out to rescue the elephant and find is sister

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

    Not that good

    Funny and a very high vocabulary(6th grade) good book for teachers to read to their students

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011


    This book is a really good!!! Recommend that 4-6 grade read it...

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2011

    Weird but I enjoyed it.

    It's kind of a old world, classic story that wraps around several charactors. I liked it, thought it charming. It was a quick read. I liked it, but I don't think my 11-yr-old would stay interested in the story.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2011

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    Not her best!

    I did not enjoy this book. It was actually pretty dumb.

    3 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2012


    How many pages is this book? Someone please answer :)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2011


    it is awesome so far

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2011

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    Liked this book...

    This book was entertaining, but at first, I thought I might not like it - there was no introduction to the characters - they just came alive with a big bang. Not as good as The Tale of Despereaux", but still good reading.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2010

    Absolutely awesome

    I bought two copies of this book and liked almost as much as the nine year old I bought it for. This book is not only good to help bridge learning vocabulary and reading vocabulary, but the story in itself is great for everyone in the family. I've actually recommended this book to my adult friends to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2009

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    A fun book for all ages

    As always, DiCamillo introduces her readers to a beautiful world full of interesting characters. Not quite the allegorical social commentary of The Tale of Despereaux, The Magician's Elephant is still an engaging journey through what seems to be a small European town at the turn of the century. The magic is not an end to itself, but rather is the catalyst in bringing about a chain of events that cause various characters to shift from their comfort zones and move onto something greater. In this way, DiCamillo is subtle, but powerful, and it can be both a fun book for younger readers as well as a book with multiple layers for older ones. I recommend this book to all readers 8+.

    -Lindsey Miller,

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013



    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    The magicians elephant is a great read for 6th graders

    I read this book when i was in 5th grade and it was a good read. Although i think that a 6th grader would enjoy the book more. It can be a little slow at first but once one gets into the story it is difficult to put down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    For 3rd grader


    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2012

    Jap to Mimi


    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012



    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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