Review: The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

Genre: fantasy Age Level: middle grade Series: N/A
Genre: fantasy
Age Level: middle grade
Series: N/A

In a highly awaited new novel, Kate DiCamillo conjures a haunting fable about trusting the unexpected — and making the extraordinary come true.

What if? Why not? Could it be?

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.


This novel reminded me why I love Kate Dicamillo’s works so much – specifically The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. That one will still forever be my favourite, but this one slots in somewhere behind. Both are extremely touching and are timeless – the types of books you can read again and again just for the pleasure of it. This one is so full of heart that it almost moved me to tears and made my heart ache. Few books ever touch me like that and it is always lovely to find one that does.

DiCamillo weaves together simple elements into a spellbinding story. Every character’s tale is told, briefly yet intimately, and everyone’s paths cross as the story reaches it’s climax. Each character is remarkable in his or her own way and surprisingly well developed for the short amount of time they appear.

The themes are quite beautiful as well. The Magician’s Elephant is all about hope and dreams and intent. Each detail is present for a reason, so is every line of dialogue. Not a single extraneous thing is present in the story, keeping it direct and powerful. DiCamillo’s writing is lovely as always; simultaneously precise and descriptive.

This is one of those children’s books that can touch anyone. It is such a wonderful, wonderful story in every possible way. Highly recommended.

Other books by Kate DiCamillo:

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Flora & Ulysses 

Have you read this book? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you!


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