marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

The Magician's Elephant

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

A boy, Peter, being raised by a soldier, is sent to buy bread and fish with a coin, but when he sees a fortune-teller's tent, he goes to ask her a question instead.  She tells him that his baby sister Adele is alive -- the soldier had said she died -- and he insists on an answer to a question he's actually asked.  So he asks how he can find his sister again, and she tells him that he must follow the elephant.

He's not sure he believes her even about his sister being alive -- the soldier had said she died -- and as for the elephant, what elephant?

Except that, shortly thereafter, a magician accidentally conjures up an elephant in a show, where he intended to conjure a bouquet of flowers. . . .
Well, he did intend a bouquet of flowers, but he also had wanted to do some real magic.

And the story takes in, along the way, a policeman who asks, "What if?  Why not?  Could it be?" a beggar who sings, a blind dog, a woman who wants to be the center of the social season, a man who used to carve gargoyles, the sister who sits at the door of the orphanage to take in the orphans brought to therm, a cloudy winter where it does not snow, and dreams.  Quite a number of dreams.

I particularly admire the style.  An omniscient narrator with a light style like filigree of steel, and one who always knows the right time for information.
Tags: children's books, fiction reviews: children's fantasy

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