Monday, September 28, 2009

Review: The Magician's Elephant


The Magician's Elephant is a fable about a boy, named Peter, who is looking for his sister. It is also about an elephant, and the magician who magically brought her to their city. Like all good fables, it is also about something more - in this case, its about truth, family and, according to author Kate DiCamillo, "believing in the impossible, and the impossible becoming possible."

What first attracted me to this book were the amazing illustrations by Yoko Tanaka. They really give the story a dreamy mood. My copy of the book (an ARC) didn't have all the illustrations, and they alone are worth buying a finished copy. It was almost a bonus that The Magician's Elephant is so well written. I know this is a long quote, but I just found it to be lovely.
The elephant was saying her name to herself.

It was not a name that would make any sense to humans. It was an elephant name - a name that her brothers and sisters knew her by, a name that they spoke to her in laughter and in play. It was the name that her mother had given to her and that she had spoken to her often and with love.

Deep within herself, the elephant said this name, her name, over and over again.

She was working to remind herself of who she was. She was working to remember that, somewhere, in another place entirely, she was known and loved.
(from the ARC - the language in the final copy may be different)

The one critique I have of this book is that it moves a little slow. I think this is in keeping with it being a fable, as the story's magical quality lends itself to a measured pace. But it makes me question how some children would react to the story, and whether they'd be captivated. I think this would work for many children as a bedtime story, and that adults would be charmed by it as well.

Buy The Magician's Elephant on Amazon.

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