Friday, March 3, 2023

The Magician's Elephant Movie tie-in by Kate DiCamillo and illustrations by Yoko Tanaka

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
with illustrations by Yoko Tanaka 
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
Format:  Paperback
Number of pages:  224
Published:  January 17th, 2023 (First published 9/8/09)
Source: Publisher 

Opening Lines: "At the end of the century before last, in the market square of the city of Baltese, there stood a boy with a hat on his head and a coin in his hand."  

Peter Duchene was on his way to the market to buy a fish and some bread for himself and his guardian, Vilna Lutz when he spots a fortuneteller's tent.  He knows that the money in his pocket is meant for their dinner, but he can't seem to stop himself from going in.  In exchange for his last coin, the fortuneteller offers to give him one answer.  So, Peter asks the question that has been burning inside of him, how to find his sister.  However, the answer is not quite what he expected, "the elephant" the fortuneteller says.  He "must follow the elephant" and she will lead him to his sister.

I've been fascinated by all of the books that have been adapted into movies lately.  I recently saw Lockwood and Company by Jonathan Stroud on Netflix and loved it.  I'm hoping to watch Matilda the Musical soon.  And there is no way I'm missing out on Are You There God?  It's Me, Margaret (coming in April).   Kate DiCamillo also has a new story that has been adapted into an animated feature, The Magician's Elephant which will air on Netflix March 17th.  I was really happy to be able to read an ARC before seeing the movie.    

Kate DiCamillo wrote one of my favorite books, The Tale of Despereaux, I have such fond memories of reading this book with my kiddo.  I've tried to read pretty much anything she's written since then.  Flora & Ulysses, Bink & Gollie, and her Three Ranchero series (just loved Louisiana's Way Home and Beverly, Right Here).  She's one of those authors that can write something serious, funny, heart wrenching or most recently books with strong messages, fable like stories like The Beatryce Prophecy and now The Magician's Elephant.  Quiet stories that provide moments of reflection about hope and questioning the what ifs in the world.

Peter is such an endearing boy, the love that he feels for his sister is so sweet.  Despite being repeatedly told that she has died, he has these fuzzy recollections of hearing his sister's cries. Peter can't help having faith.  To question the what if?    Hoping that Vilna Lutz lied to him about his sister being dead and hoping that the fortuneteller is right, and an elephant will help him find his sister.  Peter also can't help thinking that the whole thing is absurd, an elephant.  But he still holds out hope and dares to question could it be?

 I loved the way that DiCamillo created these characters that felt like they were circling around one another, that were separate little stories but connected.  Like Leo Matienne, the policeman who lives with his wife in the same building as Peter. At first, he and Peter are passing acquaintances and who later has an important role in helping Peter.  The magician was also an interesting character professing that he only intended to conjure lilies and not an elephant.  Again, his magic later becomes crucial to the story.  I really enjoyed how all these little pieces came together in the end.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the beautiful illustrations by Yoko Tanaka, which are superb in setting the mood of the story.  It gives the story a dark dreamy quality with some bits of sadness and despair mixed in.  I can see this as a story read aloud with a younger child.  Definitely thankful that I read it before the animated film comes out.  **A huge thank you to Candlewick Press for the Movie-Tie in edition in exchange for an honest review**

1 comment:

  1. I'm hoping to watch Lockwood and Co. over spring break, but I do not understand why Dahl's books still get so much love. They are not anything my students like, and if we are going to cancel Dr. Seuss, how on earth has Dahl escaped? Netflix does seem to be very fond of adapting books, but I wish they would stop going so far back in time. As for Are You There, I bet the audience will be all 50+ year old women.