Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Magician’s elephant by Kate DiCamillo

This book was featured recently in the Sydney Morning Herald and it received a glowing review by Angie Schiavone AND Kate DiCamillo is a loved author so I was very excited to begin reading this fabulous little story.

There are many small incidents in the book and small unrelated characters but DiCamillo weaves such an intricate story that is able to pull all these seemingly disparate threads together. You just know you are in the hands of a master story teller right from the opening page and that there will be a very special happy ending.

Our hero is Peter Augustus Duchene. Over the first half of the book we learn Peter’s mother and father are both dead and he is in the care of an old autocratic soldier who uses harsh treatment and austere living to prepare Peter to become a solider.

All of this changes one day when Peter uses their dinner money, one florin, to ask just one very important question of a fortune teller. Peter knows he will be in trouble with this disobedience but he must know the truth is his sister dead or alive? “Your sister? … She lives…. You must follow the elephant.”

Meanwhile at the Bliffendorf Opera House a magician has performed the most astonishing magic, conjuring an elephant who comes crashing through the ceiling.

Like all Kate DiCamillo books – The tale of Despereaux, Because of Winn Dixie, The Tiger Rising – this is a truly special book and one I highly recommend for Middle Primary readers. Look out for the lovely illustrations and amazing web site.

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