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Magician's Elephant (Review)

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The Magician's Elephant
Kate DiCamillo, 2009
208 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
March 2010

If you don't fall in love with this little book, I'll be shocked. Written for chldren, it's a book for all ages—a lyrical fable about the possibility for goodness in a dark world. It is wonderful, charming and thoroughly engaging, no matter what age.

A magician performing his magic tricks conjures up an elephant, which crashes through the roof of the theater and lands in lap of a noblewoman. A disaster. Yet only a little earlier, a young boy had received a cryptic message that an elephant would lead him to his lost sister.

Herein begins this magical tale, complete with a ranting old soldier, a dreaming nun, a bent-over stone carver, a kindly policeman and his wife—and, of course, a homesick elephant. It's a world of dreams and fortunetellers and longing.

And a world that is cold and dark. The residents of Baltese wait expectantly for a beautiful white snow that never comes. Instead, the sky is cast with clouds and a greyness that smothers hope—a world so bleak our young hero fears it is "broken...and cannot be fixed." For poor Peter...

the whole of his life had been nothing but standing and knocking, asking to be let into some place that he was not even certain existed.

But magic happens... magic of the human heart, as well as the good old-fashioned kind. Things can still be set aright, hearts opened, and hopes fulfilled. The joy of this little book is in seeing how it happens. It's an uplifting story...which in today's world is magic in itself.

See our Reading Group Guide for The Magician's Elephant.

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