The Magician's Elephant Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-06-18 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 228 user ratings

Baca buku ini berasa "acak-acakan", "ramai", dan eeer... "berat". Ini seolah pengarang ingin membuat sesuatu yang magical, fantasiyah, unik, tapi juga memiliki makna yang dalam dan sedikit atmosfer filosofis; ingin membuat cerita yang sederhana ala kanak-kanak, tapi sekaligus juga ingin sesuatu yang estetis yang jelas sulit dimengerti anak-anak.
Masalahnya, semuanya itu saling bertolak belakang. Saya rasa sulit membuat sesuatu yang sederhana tapi juga tampak filosofis dan estetis, makanya hasilnya malah bikin kesan "acak-acakan".

Sayangnya lagi, berbeda dengan Edward Tulane, "bungkus" filosofis buku ini terlampau abstrak dan bejubel (berhubung cerita Gajah ini fokusnya terlalu terbagi-bagi ke tokoh-tokohnya banyak itu).
Atmosfer filosofis dan estetis Tulane bisa "ngena" karena pembaca bisa fokus ke konflik dan perkembangan Tulane seorang. Pembaca hanya menjadi Tulane dengan kisahnya yang "utuh" dari awal hingga akhir.
Bertolak belakang banget dengan kisah Gajah ini, pembaca terbagi-bagi menjadi banyaaaaak tokoh yang masing-masing kisahnya hanya dituturkan "sebagian" dan "tidak utuh" sehingga pembaca tidak bisa masuk dengan mudah ke dalam cerita, akhirnya cuma kayak diajak puter-puter keliling-keliling pusing-pusing.

Kalau saya disuruh milih apakah menurut saya lebih baik buku ini atau Tiger Risings, saya pasti bakal bingung sendiri. Dua-duanya gak ada yang "lebih baik" ||orz
Ada apa dengan DiCamillo sih? Karya-karyanya--buat saya--selalu "hit and miss" (tapi untuk sekarang lebih banyak miss-nya). Saya merasa DiCamillo jadi seolah mempermainkan saya ||orz
Mungkin saya perlu baca Desperaux-nya juga supaya penilaian saya terhadap DiCamillo bisa fix.

Yah setidaknya semua tokohnya mendapatkan "final feliz" masing-masing lah.
" said.

"A light, quick read, and might be a suitable bedtime story for more mature children. Reading this as an adult (well I'm not sure I'm one yet but my ID says so in the legal sense), however, doesn't bring much to the table other than light whimsical entertainment value. I like how the illustrations match and complement the story beautifully.

The story tells of Peter, a boy who lives with Vilna-Lutz, an ex-war veteran who took him in after he's orphaned. Peter's days were pretty spartan until one day, he made a life-turning choice that led him to embark on a journey to fulfil the most important promise he's made so far, and ultimately finds his true life purpose. Starting with the fortune teller, Peter meets many other characters that in turns guide, inspire, alter his views and help him in his quest.

Compared to The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, this is less magical. The characters are still distinct and charming though, and dependable DiCamillo is adept at gathering empathy even for her less-than-good characters. This is DiCamillo Lite I'd say.

The event descriptions are quite structured, with each chapter normally focusing on a character. The plot flows smoothly with some delightful surprises even though the overall storyline is pretty predictable.

I imagine myself to be in a quaint little European town full of whimsical elements like Prague, with light symphonies playing in the background. My feeling throughout most of my reading the story were pleasant, but rarely excited or awestruck. It's more of an ambivalent, lullaby-esque kind of story, with just a little bit of hope instilled in you by the end of the book: that all will end well and what's seemingly impossible is possible in small, perhaps even uneventful steps, that can grow more and more miraculous; that there is magic in our everyday lives, and that all it takes is a little belief in the possibility that things can be better, to start it all.
" said.

"Peter Augustus Duchene is a ten year old orphan who is undergoing training to become a soldier like his father before him. When his guardian, sends him out to buy some fish and bread at the Baltese market square, he sees a fortune teller tent and decides that answers to his questions are far more important than eating stale bread. Instead he pays the fortune teller to answer a most pressing question... is his sister alive, and if so, how can he find her. See Peter was told that his sister died at birth - but he’s always had this niggling suspicion. The fortune teller answers him with the response "follow the elephant". To Peter, this sounds preposterous and he just assumes the fortune teller is mad. But when a magician across town tries to conjure up a bouquet of flowers for an audience member and instead summons an elephant who crashes through the ceiling of the opera house, an unbelievable chain of events are set into motion.

I loved that throughout the story you get a little bit of each character as some of the chapters flip from one character’s viewpoint to the next. Although the story is about a boy in search of a sister, a magician who just wanted something “more” in life, and an elephant that although alters many a life, does it for the best, it is so much more about love, relationships, darkness and loneliness but also about hoping, dreaming and believing.

The book’s description says it is geared for grades 4 - 7, but I do not think a child can take in and savor Ms. DiCamillo’s writing. Her wordplay is something to behold - something to be spoken out loud. Not just is the story magical but reading it feels like a treasure. You just feel so good doing it. It is a quick read - the pages are small, the writing is simple, with few words on each page, but the message is so tremendous. Ms. Tanaka's illustrations although sparse (and I confess, I would have really liked there to be more of them) only added to the seduction and mystery of this tale.

All in all, I highly recommend this to children and adults of all ages. This would make a lovely Christmas gift and I can definitely envision it on the big screen.
" said.

" This is not a book for children… this is a book for everyone. It is so beautifully written that I truly hope a child could have enough sensibility to be able to appreciate this enchanting little story. (I think it would need to be an older, rather mature child.)My compliments to Yoko Tanaka too. The illustrations are marvelous.NOTE: I thoroughly appreciated how charming and inoffensive this tale was. I found it refreshing. " said.

"Sparse and efficient text create an atmospheric and magical fairy tale of sorts. Set in a gloomy and grey "other-worldly" european town, DiCamillo brings life to a community of characters. The orphan boy Peter, who is being raised by an unstable soldier, takes center stage. His persistent "what if's" send him to a fortuneteller who reveals that his sister is indeed alive. There is also a magician who longs to perform a great feat of magic, but accidentally brings an elephant crashing through the opera ceiling upon a noblewoman in the audience. The message and theme is of hope and interconnection. " said.

"i was so excited for this book. kate dicamillo is probably my favorite author writing right now. after my mother and boyfriends, kate dicamillo is probably the person who can most easily make me cry. if you don't bawl like a baby when winn dixie goes missing you probably have no soul. that said, this book was terribly disappointing. it just tried too hard. dicamillo can write a hauntingly brilliant and touching story about a little girl and her dog. she can write a modern fairy tale like no one else. and now she's trying insanely hard to write an allegory that just isn't that compelling. i found no urgency in this book, nothing surprising, nothing really touching. if it had been much longer i probably wouldn't have finished it. sigh." said.

"A fable? An allegory? A reminder that the unlikeliest things can happen? This is mannered and old-fashioned not unlike the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane . I, too, was reminded of Hoban's The Mouse and His Child . But in this one, I don't see character development - just the journey. There is some anti-war sentiment and the old soldier is both mildly demented and verging on the abusive since the child has too little to eat and spends much of his day marching in place. He does not want to grow up to be a soldier, but in the end he is taken into the family of a policeman. Is that so very different?
I feel a straining to be literary rather than to tell a story. The illustrations in the ARC fit the story well.
" said.

"As a fan of Despereaux and Edward Tulane, I was anxious to read Kate DiCamillo's latest children's novel. What a disappointment! The Magician's Elephant shares the dreamy, fairy-tale tone of the previous two books, but without the compelling characters or deep emotion. Perhaps the dialogue is not meant to sound realistic, but it tries one's patience to encounter so many exchanges that sound like this (page 135):

"You must come inside. That is the thing which you must immediately do. You must come inside."


"Come inside. We will talk."

"Come inside. First we will eat, and then we will talk."

I found DiCamillo's other books to be quite moving, but not this one. Even her gentle humor is largely missing here. I won't be reading this one to my kids.
" said.

August 2017 New Book:

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