Book Review: The Magician’s Elephant by Kate Dicamillo #BookReview #ChildrensBooks

The Magician’s Elephant

By Kate DiCamillo


My thoughts on this book:

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo is a mysterious and magical story about a boy named Peter who has been orphaned, and the unlikely appearance of an elephant who helps him find his way.

The story takes place in the city of Baltese, which is filled with people of different classes. It’s a cold and very dark winter with minimal sunshine. Peter currently lives with his guardian–a soldier named Vilna who fought in war alongside Peter’s father. Sadly, Peter’s mother died just after the birth of his baby sister. Even though Peter has been told that his sister also died at birth, he has a subtle remembrance of her crying and feels that she may still be alive.

One day, after being sent to the marketplace to purchase food, Peter discovers a fortuneteller. He asks the fortuneteller of his sister, and indeed, he’s told that she lives.

“You must follow the elephant,” said the fortune teller. “She will lead you there.”

Peter is shocked, excited, and also confused. Could this really be true? Why has he been lied to all these years? Peter knows he must find the elephant and attempt to locate his sister, but he can’t do it alone.

I really enjoyed the way the characters were written in this story; there’s enough left open to let the reader imagine. When I first started reading this with my kids, we were all reading intently, but without a whole lot of amusement my kids became disinterested. We still wanted to disvover what would happen with Peter and the other characters, but the story fell a little flat for us. Don’t get me wrong, the book is written well and it’s beautiful at times with themes of love, forgiveness, and most of all, hope.

“Looking out over the city, Peter decided that it was a terrible and complicated thing to hope, and that it might be easier, instead, to despair.”

I did love the ending (although predictable) with how each of the characters were impacted by the elephant and essentially changed. It had a nice conclusion. We also loved the illustrations. This was an enjoyable read that I’ll still recommend.

3.5 stars

Find this book on Goodreads and Amazon:

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (December 8, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763680885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763680886

From Goodreads:

A classic tale by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo, America’s beloved storyteller

When a fortuneteller’s tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller’s mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be narrated by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.
With dreamlike illustrations and a new cover by Yoko Tanaka.

Thanks for reading my review. Have you read this book or others by Kate DiCamillo? Feel free to share thoughts or suggestions below.

❤ Mischenko

24 thoughts on “Book Review: The Magician’s Elephant by Kate Dicamillo #BookReview #ChildrensBooks

  1. Off subject here…

    Have you changed anything since the new year in regards to the background stuff on your site? I’ve noticed a real slow down whenever I come over now. I have to open a tab and then just let your website load everything for almost 5min sometimes.

    I know it is not my connection, because even as slow as we have things other wordpress sites load just fine and even wordpress hosted dotcom sites are fine. I am also wondering if one of the plugins I use (like adblock plus, ghostery, etc) are interacting with something.

    Anyway, it’s no biggie, especially since I don’t know what is causing it but figured I give you a shoutout just in case you knew you had changed something recently.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really appreciate you mentioning that because I’ve noticed it as well. I think it might be the background I’ve chosen. I guess I better figure it out because it’s obviously not just my computer. I noticed over Christmas that everything was acting very slow. Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it happens I guess. Such a beautiful ending though. I suppose it could be some of the more complex themes that made it better for older readers. Definitely still worth a read though! Thanks, Mackey. 😉


  2. Nice review Jenn. I find that sometimes authors write children’s books that they think they should enjoy, but they are more geared to adults and kids don’t really like them or lost interest. Just a thought, not sure if that was the case here. I have not read this one yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly what you mean, Carla. I think this book did have some complex themes that are good for some kids, but others might not be ready. We did enjoy it, but it wasn’t a favorite. Thanks for checking out our review! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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