Middle Grade Mondays: I Laughed, I Cried – The Magician’s Elephant

Before I tell you about this lovely book, I just want to say that as an author, I can’t wait until the day my work gets so precious that I get a website as beautiful as this:  THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT

Second, this book is being MADE INTO A MOVIE.

The announcement is two years old, but there are no details yet. It’s not even in “pre-production” on IMDB, so it won’t be out for a few years, sorry to tease you like that.

“What attracted me to the project was that Fox wanted to make a fable which could both be a classic but not take itself too seriously,” [Director Martin Hynes] told Variety.“The film we’ve referenced in terms of tone is ‘The Princess Bride’ — something that kids will enjoy, but adults will love on other levels.”

When I read this I thought, Yay. Because one of the things I love about Kate DiCamillo’s work is her playful profundity. What I call the “sad-beautiful” of life and being human. I have an addiction to laughing-through-the-tears kinds of stories because they feel like authentic life. There can always be another happy ending.

It’s a story of love and magic, of loneliness and hope, with a side-dish of the transformative power of forgiveness.

If you tied me up and tickle-tortured me as to which book I liked better, this one or The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane, I’d say Edward, but that’s, you know, like the difference between good chocolate and really good chocolate.

In Magician’s Elephant a boy is told by a gypsy that the sister he thought was dead is really alive. And that the Elephant will lead him to her. Of course, there are no Elephants in this small European town, but when one accidentally appears one night during a routine magic trick, dropping through the opera house roof and paralyzing the woman it lands on, the whole town becomes obsessed with the miracle.

That makes it sounds a bit heavy for a MG novel, but it’s not! It’s told in the whimsical manner of a fairy tale, with de-lovely and amusing characters. (Policeman Leo Matienne and his wife Gloria are particular favorites and they have a lovely relationship with much communicated through few words.) On top of it, the pages are filled with beautiful artwork by Yoko Tanaka.

Teachers will love it because there’s this fabulous “What if . . .” theme that would lend itself to imaginative classroom exercises.


  1. Deb Marshall
    Sep 13, 2011

    Have not read this one yet but will. lol on the tickling…I love Miraculous Journey too!

  2. Hi Deb –

    If you loved Miraculous Journey I think you love this. I was almost afraid to read it, I had loved Miraculous Journey so much. I didn’t want to be let down. lol.

    It’s a completely different story, but DiCamillo has definitely done it again.

  3. Barbara Watson
    Sep 20, 2011

    I agree, a fabulous read! But…..I have not read MIRACULOUS JOURNEY! I’ll get on that.

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