Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

Everyone loves the Newbery Winner, The Tale of Despereaux. Loves it. I only liked it. It was cute of course, and DiCamillo's narrative voice carried me immediately to that safe, story time place that makes me feel like I'm six years old again. But I thought that it did more to reinforce classism than much else, and as a result I was only lukewarm on it. Of course, I'm literally the only person in the entire literary universe who seems to feel that way.

But DiCamillo's new book, The Magician's Elephant, was something else entirely. I again was taken to that safe, story time place. But this time, I felt DiCamillo used her allegorical style to its fullest, and I found myself in tears by the end of it.

When a magician conjures and elephant (and then is unable to send it back from whence it came) that comes crashing through a theater ceiling, everyone in the tiny town's life seems to change. Soon, the elephant is at the center of the social, moral, spiritual and dream world of everyone in the town. And as the townspeople learn the accept the possibility of the impossible, many of the citizens begin to pin their many assorted impossible dreams on the elephant.

Heartwarming and perfect for family read aloud, I loved The Magician's Elephant the same way I love The Little Prince, one of my all-time favorite children's novels. If there were a book I could force on everyone this fall, I think this would be my choice.

Read it.

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