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on 27 December 2010
Ths story follows the plight of an orphaned boy named Peter. From an early age he was told that his baby sister died at birth but then he meets a fortune-teller and then has a vivid dream and Peter is suddenly infused with the belief that his sister is actually alive. The strange events that follow in the book are about Peter trying to find his sister. Along his journey he meets a number of different characters who, like him, are in the midst of dealing with varying circumstances in their lives. Peter has an awesome sense of purpose, hope and belief which in turn persuades those he meets to help him out on his journey. All those he meets are lifted by Peter's spirit of 'believing in the impossible' and in turn realise that 'all things are possible' in the midst of their own hopelessness and despair. Peter's journey becomes their journey and more than anything, I believe it can become the reader's journey too.

I'm not sure if this book is suitable for children but I will test it out in my class of 10-11 year olds and get their verdict. I have taken the advice of another reviewer and read it as a piece of theatre written in prose. This advice has helped me work through the seemingly strange turns of phrases and repetition in the book. It can be read in less than two hours and like a play, I would encourage you to read it in one full sitting to digest all that this book offers. A highly recommended story.
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on 31 October 2015
Kate DiCamillo is one of the best authors we've discovered in the last three years. She knows how to draw you in from the first few lines of the book. The Magician's Elephant is unique, quirky, at times funny and eccentric, at times unusual and outlandish. But most of all, a wonderful read. One that I'd enjoy with a nice cup of hot chocolate, on a comfortable armchair in front of a warm winter's fire.
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on 29 May 2014
I haven't quite made up my mind about this book yet. After reading her Edward Tulane story, this hasn't captured the imagination as quickly or as intensely. I read Edward Tulane to my Year 5 class and they (and I) loved it. I am now reading this book to them and nowhere near the same magic. A well presented book with lovely illustrations but not sure about the story as yet!
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on 8 September 2017
This is a beautiful book, a heartwarming story and illustrated well. A must for anyone wanting to believe that just sometimes the impossible is possible.
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on 19 February 2014
What A wonderful read! beautifully written, very poetic.Ideal for the older child and the young at heart.
Will read it time and again :)
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on 4 March 2016
Excellent read.
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on 4 June 2017
Peter Augustus Duchene is an orphan in the city of Baltese. He lives with a retired military man, Vilna Lutz. Lutz sends Peter to the market with a coin to buy fish and bread. But Peter is attracted by the sign for a fortuneteller, and he spends the coin there. She tells him that, to find his sister, he must follow the elephant.

Peter’s sister, he’s been told, die with his mother at childbirth. But he’s suspected that she didn’t die. And here’s the fortuneteller telling him exactly that! But what is this about the elephant?

And then, at the opera house, a magician is performing before the nobles and town dignitaries. He wants to do something spectacular, he thinks, seeing their bored faces. And he means to create a bouquet of lilies, but he utters a different spell and – an elephant comes crashing through the roof.

And so begins the story of “The Magician’s Elephant,” written by children’s author Kate DiCamillo and illustrated with stark, poignant drawings by Yoko Tanaka.

I first met the writings of Kate DiCamillo through the movie version of her first book, “Because of Winn-Dixie,” a runaway bestseller in the United States and a Newberry Honor Book. (It was also a delightful movie.) Her book “Flora & Ulysses” won the 2014 Newberry Medal, and “The Tiger Rising” was a National Book Award finalist. She’s also written “The Extraordinary Journey of Edward Tulane,” “The Tale of Despereaux,” and several other children’s stories.

DiCamillo creates an atmosphere of gloom and cold around her story, and in fact snow becomes a critical element. Tanaka’s illustrations provide a graphic representation of that atmosphere.

“The Magician’s Elephant” is a story of hope and faith, of rescue and responsibility, of a boy’s belief that his sister is still alive, the sister he promised his dying mother he would care for. At times so many themes are moving through this story that it is sufficient to cast analysis to the side and simply read it for the good story that it is.
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#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 23 June 2016
Kate DiCamillo has obviously written good books (you don't win a Newberry Medal for nothing) but I'm afraid this book didn't really work for me. It is an attempt to create a modern fairy story, and it does have its merits including some quite touching moments, but I found the book a struggle to get through and ultimately rather depressing and unrewarding.

On the dustjacket, DiCamillo is quoted as saying "I wanted, I needed, I *yearned* to tell a story of love and magic," and I think that has possibly led her to try a bit too hard. She has created a mythical city which seems to be somewhere in central Europe in the late 19th Century. It is cold and dark there and it is peopled by odd characters with a strange mishmash of names. The prose tries to be poetic and of the period but ends up just feeling rather affected with some very jarring slips out of style ("Quit moving your lips," for example). It read to me like a not-very-good pastiche of a Victorian translation of a Grimm Fairy Tale. The illustrations are dark and gloomy, and I remember finding books like this quite disturbing when I was small.

Please be aware that others have found this book charming and uplifting. You should read their reviews before being put off by mine - these things are often a matter of personal taste after all - but I'm afraid I didn't enjoy it and shan't be reading it again myself, nor to any young people.
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#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 16 August 2014
Kate DiCamillo has obviously written good books (you don't win a Newberry Medal for nothing) but I'm afraid this book didn't really work for me. It is an attempt to create a modern fairy story, and it does have its merits including some quite touching moments, but I found the book a struggle to get through and ultimately rather depressing and unrewarding.

On the dustjacket, DiCamillo is quoted as saying "I wanted, I needed, I *yearned* to tell a story of love and magic," and I think that has possibly led her to try a bit too hard. She has created a mythical city which seems to be somewhere in central Europe in the late 19th Century. It is cold and dark there and it is peopled by odd characters with a strange mishmash of names. The prose tries to be poetic and of the period but ends up just feeling rather affected with some very jarring slips out of style ("Quit moving your lips," for example). It read to me like a not-very-good pastiche of a Victorian translation of a Grimm Fairy Tale. The illustrations are dark and gloomy, and I remember finding books like this quite disturbing when I was small.

Please be aware that others have found this book charming and uplifting. You should read their reviews before being put off by mine - these things are often a matter of personal taste after all - but I'm afraid I didn't enjoy it and shan't be reading it again myself, nor to any young people.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 May 2015
Mercy Watson, a "porcine wonder" finds herself, in this story, hunted by animal control officer, Francine Poulet. Mercy's owners, Mr. and Mrs. Watson spoil Mercy and when she gets into mischief in this story by eating all the pansy's that Eugenia and Baby Lincoln, the next door neighbors have just planted, don't apologise but just say "She must be hungry" and offer Mercy her favorite food, toast with lots of butter.

Needless to say, Eugenia Lincoln is rather cross and calls animal control. Hearing this, her sister Baby, goes around to the Watsons to let them know about the "unmentionable horror"' that is about to happen! In the meantime, two neighborhood children have come to invite Mercy to a tea party which Mercy willingly goes to thinking there will be more delicious food for her.

Read the book to see what happens. Will Francine Poulet find Mercy?

For some reason our kids LOVE this book and want it read repeatedly. While I do see the humour in it, its simplicity and constant repeating of the same people's names gets a tad monotonous and makes the story longer than it needs to be. The illustrations are fabulous and definitely help with the appeal of this book.
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