The Magician's Elephant
by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Reading level: MG
Peter Augustus Duchenne is an orphan who lives with an old soldier named Vilna Lutz. He's always been told that he is alone in the world, that he has no family. But then a fortuneteller makes a stunning declaration and Peter discovers that his sister, thought to have died at birth, may in fact be alive. Not only that, but an elephant is the one who will bring them back together. But where is an elephant to be found in the cold and gloomy city of Baltese? On one magical evening, the citizens of the city find out in a rather surprising way... and nothing will be the same for any of them.
Kate DiCamillo has written a number of books that you may have heard of, including Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux. I first heard about the author when my mom read and enjoyed The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I would have liked to read that book, but I couldn't find it at the library. I did, however, find The Magician's Elephant, so I thought I'd give it a try.
I really enjoyed this one. Despite the middle grade designation, the book could be enjoyed by pretty much any age group. Themes such as forgiveness, belief, love, and the magic of life are touched upon, and will probably be appreciated more by older readers. The writing style was magical, like that of a storybook, and brought the interesting and varied characters to life. We're introduced to seemingly unrelated Baltesians throughout the narrative, but DiCamillo skillfully ties everyone together by the end, reminding us of the interconnectedness that we often take for granted.
The book is illustrated by Yoko Tanaka; the charming and whimsical pictures really add to the atmosphere of the story. All in all, I quite enjoyed The Magician's Elephant. It's a quick read, but an enjoyable one nonetheless.
Overall: 4.57 out of 5