Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Magician's Elephant

Kate DiCamillo's new book, The Magician's Elephant, which was published in early September by Candlewick Press, follows in the tradition of her other books in several ways. We see, as we've seen in at least one of her other books — The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Tale of Desperaux and Because of Winn-Dixie — animal characters, lonely children, understanding adults, an important journey and life lessons. We also see, as we've come to expect from DiCamillo, exquisitely wrought prose and a heart-rending tale.

The Magician's Elephant is about an orphan named Peter, who is being raised by an old soldier determined to have Peter follow in his footsteps. One day Peter learns that the sister he thought had died is actually alive, and a fortune teller instructs him to follow the elephant to find her.

Meanwhile, a magician attempting to summon flowers out of thin air summons an elephant instead. The elephant breaks a woman's legs, and the magician is thrown into prison.

The stories of Peter and the magician are interwoven with those of Adele, Peter's sister, the couple who live below Peter and the soldier, an hunched-over stonecutter, and others. In each of her books, DiCamillo creates a half dozen characters who would be worthy of books on their own. She does it again here — each story depends on the others, but is also wonderful in its own right.

DiCamillo is a marvelous storyteller, and an equally skilled writer. The Magician's Elephant may be a fable, but I think it's her most sophisticated work yet.

1 comment:

  1. great review - I will have to check it out. I've read her other books and enjoyed them.