The Magician's Elephant

Summary:

When Vilna Lutz sent Peter (10) to the market, he expected the boy to return home with fish and bread. Instead, Peter spent that coin on a fortuneteller. Surely, she could tell him where to find his sister Adele. Lutz, Peter's guardian, insists she is dead, but Peter doesn't believe it. When the fortuneteller told Peter to "follow the elephant," he was perplexed. There were no elephants in Baltese ... well, until one fell through the roof of the Bliffendorf Opera House. Surely the path to Adele would be easier, right? 


BTSYA Reader (13):
The story has a faint feel of magic, but it’s not the main focus. Hope, dreams, and family are what shine through. The Magician's Elephant is reminiscent of a fairy tale. At first glance, it’s a children’s story, but once you start focusing on the characters and why they do what they do, the story gets increasingly interesting. The perspective shifts through the viewpoint of many characters, introducing them in a new light.

I would definitely recommend buying this story and keeping it forever. It can be reread and is suitable for most ages. Peter's search enmeshes a wide cast of characters, where nobody is really a villain. From his less-than-suitable guardian to the fortune-teller to the elephant which fell through the roof, everybody has a backstory, and all help reunite brother and sister.

BTSYA Reader (Young Adult):
I loved this book. The way of the quest is unique and so are the characters. But the characters are also very realistic. The story has a folktale kind of feel to it. It moves quickly. Each character has his or her own story which meshes with everyone else's story. Peter is a clever boy who knows what he wants and doesn't let obstacles get in the way of getting what he needs to make things right.

Highly recommended for readers 8 to 12 years old.

Parent Perspective:
The story has a Dickens-like feel to it that makes it intriguing and fresh. The side stories introduce additional characters and events along the way, and while they are tied up nicely at the end, it was aggravating to be in the middle of something and then go off on a tangent.


Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers who love timeless stories with a "classic" feel are likely to read The Magician's Elephant in just one sitting!

Content Awareness Factors:

None. The story moves about quite a bit, with additional characters plopped down along the way. This could be frustrating for an 8-year-old trying to listen along. [The book is listed as written for children 8 to 12.]


Type of Book:
Fortune, misfortune, and magic come together in this fairy tale of timeless appeal.
Educational Themes:

The setting is such that it isn't difficult to draw out information about life in the 1800s or circus life. There is an underlying story about separation and the relationship between brothers and sisters.

Reading Level:
5.0
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
7 to 10
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer ages: 13 and Young Adult
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy! This is a wonderful choice for reading aloud before bed or a classroom library.

Title The Magician's Elephant
Author Kate DiCamillo
Publisher Candlewick Press, Walker Books Group © 2009
Illustrators Yoko Tanaka
ISBN 0763644102
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.99
Genres Animal Character, Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Fairy Tale
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