The Magician’s Elephant

Title: The Magician’s Elephant
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Published: 2009
Number of pages: 201
Rating: 5 out of 5
Vilna Lutz stared at Peter with his mouth agape and the point of his beard trembling.

Peter, looking back at him, felt something unbearably hot rise up in his throat; he knew that now the words would finally come. “She lives,” he said. “That is what the fortuneteller told me. She lives, and an elephant will lead me to her. And because an elephant has come out of nowhere, out of nothing, I believe her. Not you. I do not, I cannot, any longer believe you.”

“What is this you are talking about? Who lives?”

“My sister,” said Peter. (p. 99)

Not every work by every author is loved by every body. I adored Because of Winn-Dixie. (Tell me, if you will, exactly what a Litmus Lozenge tastes like.) I enjoyed The Tale of Despereaux (especially reading it with a French accent to my class). I tolerated Great Joy (finding it more sorrowful than joyful) and most sorrowful of all is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

But, I fully expected my students to embrace The Magician’s Elephant. They weren’t having any of it. A few of them loved the writing as much as I did, but most of them wanted me to abandon it, a most loathsome thing for me to do. However, rather than have my enjoyment ruined by their discontent, I did abandon it and brought it home to read to myself.

I’ve been reading this book slowly all week. It is the perfect thing to come home to at the end of a hectic day, the perfect world to absorb oneself in:  a world which only Kate DiCamillo can create. I can’t think of an author who can write more beautifully than she does. Nor, in a more heart wrenching manner.
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11 thoughts on “The Magician’s Elephant”

  1. You know, I gave this book a try a few weeks ago. I loved the writing but I wasn't really into the book so I abandoned it. Since then a few bloggers have told me to pick it back up. I think I will soon. The atmosphere of the book seems like it might be a good winter read.

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  2. I've only read Despereaux but the family repeats lines from it all the time. "Gah!" and "I am a rat." are favorites. I keep meaning to read more by her. I guess I'll start with Winn-Dixie.

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  3. I love Kate DiCamillo's work and this sounds like something I'd enjoy. Your students may have been to restless to settle down and appreciate this story due to the upcoming holidays. Thanks for your review.

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  4. Oh I couldn't agree with you more, Bellezza. Such a beautiful, heart wrenching book. I fell in love with this one. I think it may be my new favorite of hers, but I think I say that about every new DiCamillo that comes out :p It really was lovely though and perfect for this time of year.

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  5. I brought The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane home from library a couple of months ago but had to return it back unread :(. I have yet to read a DiCamillo's! Where to start?! Could you recommend one please. I'll read the one you recommend.

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  6. DiCamillo, to me, is the quintessential children's author. I've not yet read this book, but is in my plans. How sad that your class wasn't buying it! I hate it when that happens with my kids, but you are right. You can't fight them without suffering. Sometimes it is just not worth it.

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  7. I have Despereaux on the TBR but have never heard of this one so if I like the other will give this a try sounds interesting. I think the kids were just too excited about the holidays. Maybe try it again in the new year… then you get to read it twice!!!

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  8. Mee, my personal favorite is Because of Winn-Dixie. It just tells a beautiful story, and it struck so many chords in my heart. Of course, you may not like DiCamillo's work at all, but I'd be surprised if you didn't find something wonderful in Winn-Dixie.

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