Once in a while a book comes along that makes you believe that you are actually sitting in the presence of a great storyteller and that they are telling you the story within the covers of the book ... the voice within their writing is just THAT strong. Such is the case with Kate DiCamillo's latest book, The Magician's Elephant . For that reason, I really believe that this is the perfect book for a family read-aloud - a book for the summer vacation road trip or a couple nights around the campfire, or a few lazy afternoons in the backyard hammock. The language and dialogue is magical and the phrasing is paced so gorgeously. You feel like you are listening to an antiquated recitation of a story from long ago. There are also quirky illustrations that do a beautiful job of complementing the storyline. Each illustration gives a glimpse of a key event or key character (s).
This is a story with strong messages ... a fable, so to speak. Young Peter Augustus Duchene is an orphaned youngster with two burning questions and when a fortuneteller comes to town, he spends his bread money to get the answers. The cryptic answer the fortuneteller gives him leads him to an elephant - an elephant that has appeared in Peter's town through highly magical circumstances. Peter's mission becomes finding a way to meet the elephant in order to find the answers he has asked of the fortuneteller. When he finally does meet the magician's elephant, though, he realizes just how sad and homesick she is and suddenly, his mission becomes finding a way to help her return to her home. It seems an impossible mission, that raises even more questions for young Pierre. What if she is forced to stay the center of the town's curiosity? Why not ask the magician to reverse his magical spell and send her home? Could it be possible that the elephant could lead Pierre to his long lost sister?
What follows is a fast-paced meeting of all the principal characters in the story, each with their own need to believe in the impossible and trust that some things can magically work out! There is plenty more to this tale , but in the interest of keeping this post 'spoiler free', let's leave it at this ...what a sweet and endearing story !
This book is another in my list of readings for Carl's Once Upon a Time reading challenge -