I love reading children’s books. There is something comforting and familiar about them. They almost never have a bad ending. They just make me happier. “The Magician’s Elephant” is no exception.
For the last two weeks, I have read a bit of this children’s book at night to my son. And to my husband (he says he likes to listen to me read). I realized recently that the last book I had read out loud to my son was when we read a Harry Potter book together almost two years ago. Two years! I could not believe it had been that long. I made a lazy conclusion in my head that insisted that if my children could read chapter books by themselves, they no longer needed me to read to them. And that is a shame. And a pity.
I started this children’s book by myself. But the writing was so marvelous, I had to share it. So, I began reading a bit to my son and husband every night. My daughter would have none of it. But she and I read the same teen fantasy books and discuss them, so I was okay with it. A little sad, but okay.
“The Magician’s Elephant” is the tale is a story about a magician who brings an elephant crashing down through the roof of an opera house and cripples a noble woman in the process. He did not mean to. He only wanted to provide her with lillies. But he also longed to do real magic.
In a different part of the city, little Peter has sought out a fortuneteller whose prediction to him was that he must follow an elephant to find the sister he believed to be dead.
And so it began. The intersecting lines of many lives all interwoven around and through and to the elephant.
The words in this book are gorgeous. It is only 201 pages long. Or two hundred and a half pages long, as my son would say.
The book is illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. The illustrations are a bit dark. But because Kate DiCamillo’s words are so descriptive and beautiful, I liked that the drawings were murky and dreamlike. The illustrations did not mess with the pictures that Ms. DiCamillo had all ready painted in my head.
I would be reading aloud and a sentence would catch me off-guard with its eloquent beauty. I would find my voice cracking and my vision blurred not by sadness but with the great emotion that her words brought forth.
Now this. This is a beautiful writer. And this. This is a beautiful book.
It is a book that will become a classic. I am sure of it.
The true magic in this book are in the sentences. She put words that I never thought to pull together and made them harmonize and sing. It was the music my soul did not know it longed to hear.
You cannot rush through this book, even though it is an easy read (actually there were surprisingly large words used for a children’s book). To rush through this book would be to miss the magic resting on each page.
My son turned to me when it was over moved beyond words. When I prodded him, he responded, “that was the best book I have ever read.”
I am glad he enjoyed it as much as I did.
I also have ordered “Flora and Ulysses.” It is a book also by Kate DiCamillo and I plan on beginning to read it to my whole family (my daughter is not getting out of a great book again) later in the week. I am making it a goal to read out loud to my children more. I had forgotten how enjoyable it was. Just because their ages are now in the double digits, doesn’t mean they are too old for it.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you have any other marvelous children’s books for me to read?