Illustrator: Yoko Tanaka
Published by Candlewick Press on September 8th 2009
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
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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.
Beautiful and efficient.
I really love this book because it manages to say a lot in a very short amount of time. I just love DiCamillo’s style. She uses a lot of short, poignant sentences and very honest dialogue. It’s like the way I write. The dialogue is so unusual but the characters are all trying to convey something in the way they…state the obvious, over and over again, or just plain say what they’re thinking. And this happens all the time, with almost every line of dialogue.
Another great thing is the character’s backstories. You don’t see how they could possibly be important sometimes, especially with the seemingly minor characters, but you still think it’s interesting. Each character is so unique. And then, she marvelously blends their stories together and gives each character a good ending, if not a perfect one all the time. It all fits together like a giant puzzle.
And there are all kinds of morals and themes hidden throughout. One of the bigger ones is the impossible becoming possible. And how better to do that than with magic, and an elephant?
It’s definitely a sad story, but one that quickly gets better with a kind of magic that isn’t just from a magician. I feel like love plays a really important role too. And faith, hope, all of that good stuff. It’s a really inspiring story, great for the age group it’s targeting.