April Book of the Month

The Magician's Elephant

by Kate DiCamillo

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.

This dreamlike and captivating tale evokes the largest of themes—hope and belonging, desire and compassion—with the lightness of a magician’s touch.

Family Activities

  1. In the book the magician says, “Magic is always impossible. It begins with the impossible and ends with the impossible and is impossible in between. That is why it is magic.” What is your definition of magic? What has happened in your life that is magical or unexpected?
  2. Imagine that you were making room for an elephant in your home or in your classroom. How much floor space would the elephant need? How tall would the ceiling need to be? Using a piece of paper or removable object, mark where the elephant’s footprints would be on the floor and where the top of its head would be—that is, if your ceiling is high enough! Research what kind of food and how much food an elephant requires and calculate how much it would cost to feed your visitor for a week.
  3. Faith, hope and coming of age are central themes of this story. Peter believes that if he can find the elephant, he will find his sister. This faith and hope overcomes even his doubt that he can keep his promise. Talk about a time when you have had to test your faith and hope that something would work out. How did you overcome your challenge? What did you learn about yourself along the way? Why do you think it is important to believe you can overcome challenges?
  4. Kate DiCamillo is an amazing, award-winning author of more than 17 books! She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, raised in Clermont, Florida, and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She writes books for both children and adults and she says she loves to tell stories.

    Here are a few more facts Kate shares about herself:

    I am short. And loud. I hate to cook and love to eat. I am single and childless, but I have lots of friends and I am an aunt to three lovely children (Luke, Roxanne, and Max) and one not so lovely dog (Henry). I think of myself as an enormously lucky person, because I get to tell stories for a living.

    Imagine that you are a famous, award-winning author. Write a few sentences describing yourself, your family, and the things you like to do. Describe the types of books you would write and who would you like to read them.

    Kate DiCamillo will be visiting Nashville Public Library on Saturday, May 7 at 2:00 pm, and you can attend the free event to ask questions about the books she has written and her life as an author. She also invites her fans to ask questions on her facebook page if you cannot attend the event!