The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
(Candlewick Press, 2009, 201 pages)
I read this one to my daughter. We both enjoyed it. Peter, an orphan, goes to see a fortuneteller. She tells him that his sister, whom he was told had died, is alive, and that in order to find her he must “follow the elephant.” The instruction sounds absurd until a magician’s act goes wrong and he conjures an elephant which comes crashing through the ceiling of the Baltese Opera House. The consequences of this bizarre and amazing event are both tragic and hopeful as Peter and the rest of the town of Baltese struggle to understand the significance of this remarkable happening.
The book has a haunting, dream-like quality to it. It reads very much like fairytale. That said, there is also humor sprinkled throughout – which is appropriate, given the absurdity of the premise. I had never read anything by Kate DiCamillo before, but I think I will probably read more of her work in the future.