Reading: “The Magician’s Elephant”


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?

13 thoughts on “Reading: “The Magician’s Elephant”

  1. That is so awesome, reading to your kids even when they are older. I hope to do the same. Right now, we have a great routine of reading at least 4 books before every nap or bedtime. And his daycare has a wonderful “Raising a Reader” program where we get a new bag of books every week. We love going to the library and Barnes & Noble too.

    • Thank you Heather! I try. I did not do it for a very long time. Oh, the guilt.

      That program for your son sounds fantastic. That is so great to have that new bag of books to read every week. It is like the library coming to you!

      Thank you for commenting. And sharing. I really appreciate it! : )

      Have a terrific week!


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  3. I also love reading books written for children and young adults! This one sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to check it out! I always look for whimsy in the books I read. My favorite “young adult” books are The Enchanted Forest books by Patricia Wrede – in my mind, they are the perfect combination of humor, whimsy, and good storytelling!

    • Thank you Brynne. I have not read “The Enchanted Forrest” books. I will have to look them up. Children’s books just make me so relaxed. Of course, I am not alone. I was reading “Flora & Ulysses” to my family tonight. When I paused and looked over, both my husband and son had fallen asleep!

      Have a creative week!


  4. Oh this sounds so wonderful! I need to start writing down all of these amazing books that you are recommending. I just finished The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide and was a little frustrated with it. It’s not a kid book by the way. I wonder if you would like it? The poetry is beautiful. My problem is when I read stuff about cats I tend to come at it from a warped cat rescue standpoint and can’t fully enjoy the story and words. I may blog about this one.

    • Thanks Cynthia. Oh, you should definitely do a post about it. I would love to read it. I love book reviews. I especially think you doing a book review about that book is very insightful as you can give more in-depth knowledge with your experience working with cats. I also loved the post you did a few months ago where you showed you working the streets with the kitties. That sounds wrong. But you know what I mean. ; ). For and with the animal shelter. It was very interesting.

      Have a charming week!


      • Oh, really? Thank you for telling me that you thought that post was interesting. I don’t write about rescue often because it is such a sad subject for me. I need to change the way I think about it and figure out how to write about it so it is inspiring. Hmmm… you have got me thinking! Thank you!

      • I am glad I mentioned it then. If anyone can write about it in a touching, intelligent, informative way it would be you. I just really did enjoy those pieces. I cannot wait to see what you write. I know it is very close to your heart. Murphy is a rescue. He hoards his food all over the house, because someone left him to starve in a foreclosure. He was half the weight he is now. And he was full grown. If I could find those owners…

        Have a terrific week!


  5. I also love children’s and young adult books. I will definitely be putting this book on my list. I really loved Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord. Her other books are also good.

    • Thanks Liana. I kind of liked The Thief Lord. I own it, but it felt very hectic and not all the way pulled together for me. I love good flow. I do not think that is her strong point. Although, I thought the plot and premise were imaginative and good! I hope you enjoy that book. It is so gorgeous. The one I am reading by her right now is definitely not as good.

      Have a great week! : )


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