Friday, October 9, 2009

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

"At the end of the century before last, in the market square of the city of Baltese, there stood a boy with a hat on his head and a coin in his hand."


The abstract
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Abstract: When ten-year-old orphan Peter Augustus Duchene encounters a fortune teller in the marketplace one day and she tells him that his sister, who is presumed dead, is in fact alive, he embarks on a remarkable series of adventures as he desperately tries to find her.

Publisher: Candlewick Press, 201 pages

10 comments:

kim said...

I love Kate DiCamillo's books, but The Magician's Elephant felt perfunctory. The illustrations are lovely, but I really did not get caught up in the story. The premise has promise, it just felt underdeveloped.

Winnie said...

No, it's not The Tale of Despereaux. But it is a nice story.

This book does have something unique about it. What is unique about this book is the characters' voices. There is a lot of repetition of words in the characters' voices. The repetition makes the book a bit melodic. Melodic in the sense of a soothing lullaby.

The Brain Lair (KB) said...

I felt like DiCamillo was writing with an award in mind. This is a great readaloud but I don't think it's written for children. Not one of her best, although it was good.

Amy said...

I thought this book was lovely. The prose was lyrical, which would definitely make this a good read-aloud. I thought the story itself was intriguing, and DiCamillo created realistic, colorful characters that brought the story to life.

Meredith said...

I've only read the first few chapters, so my opinion may be swayed by the end. The Magician's Elephant has a beautiful dream-like quality. However, the characters -- like characters in dreams -- behave strangely, and their fuzzy or nonexistent motivations do not strike me as particularly good writing.

Is the city of Baltese an alternate universe Balta (Ukraine)?

Jewel said...

I like to try and judge children's books from a child's point of view. I do not know many children who would enjoy reading this book and who would actually stick with it to the end. I agree with the other comments - this is not DiCamillo's best work.

shelf-employed said...

I thought the Magician's Elephant was nothing less than magical. It's a quick read (my daughter and I both read it in the same afternoon while relaxing at the pool on vacation), but it stays with you. Winnie mentioned that the book is "melodic." Melodic, mysterious,and magical. I loved it.

Anonymous said...

I've never read any of Kate DiCamillo's books but, I heard she was a great writer. So, I picked this book up and I began to read. I was not impressed. I didn't understand the plot line. I also, didn't understand what she was talking about. It was very confusing to read. Every time I read dialogue, I felt like I was watching a play written by Shakespeare. I had to go back and re-read the sentence a few times to understand it. Not the greatest book. I don't recommend it for younger kids around the age of fourteen and under.

Anonymous said...

I agree that I don't think many kids would like this book. That being said, it gave me a sort of mysterious, otherworldly feel that I got when reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It was short, but it did seem to drag on. The language also made me feel it was written for adults rather than kids.

IdaB said...

I didn't like this book at all!
I don't think kids will enjoy it either.
Don't understand all the hype around this book.