Title: The Magician's Elephant
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator: Yoko Tanaka
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
List Price: 16.99, hardcover
Release Date: 8 September, 2009
The Magician's Elephant begins as a rather dark, heart-wrenching story. It reads almost like a fable or fairy tale. The book follows ten-year-old Peter, orphaned and entrusted to an aging soldier. Moving through the town of Baltese, Peter encounters many characters with lives filled with tragedy. Even the town itself is enshrouded in a wintry darkness.
Amidst this darkness, Peter alone holds a small hope, kindled by a fortune teller he meets in the opening pages. As Peter clings to this hope and the story unfolds, even those struck by the hardest blows of fate see a silver lining in Peter's determination. His strength connects several seemingly unconnected characters, into a destined patchwork illumined with hope. Themes of fate and destiny intermingle with stories of perseverance and faith in one's own star...
Fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events will appreciate the dark and pseudo-Victorian tone of the book. And of all of DiCamillo's previous works, The Magician's Elephant probably most evokes The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, with themes of fate enlivened by promises and love. Overall a fairly quick but serious and fairy-tale-like read that anyone from eight or nine up could enjoy.