Marshmallow reviews The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

Marshmallow has reviewed two books by Kate DiCamillo before: Flora and Ulysses and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Today she reviews a third book of hers, The Magician’s Elephant.

Marshmallow reviews The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo.
Marshmallow reviews The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about family, animals, or magic, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Peter Augustus Duchene lives in Baltese with his guardian, an elderly soldier named Vilna Lutz. Vilna Lutz is not particularly bad, but he is extremely obsessed with making Peter into a good soldier. Thus, Vilna Lutz is extremely strict. One day, when Vilna Lutz sends Peter to buy fish and bread, Peter meets a fortune teller. Instead of buying the fish and bread he was supposed to, he uses the money to ask the fortune teller a single question. (Since he is honorable, he decides that he will tell Vilna what he has done, which is very honorable.) Peter knows exactly what he will ask. His little sister, Adele, according to Vilna, was stillborn but Peter has his doubts. When he starts to ask the fortune teller his question, the fortune teller tells him that his sister is still alive. Extremely excited, Peter asks how to find her. The fortune teller mysteriously says, “Follow the elephant.” Puzzled over these words, Peter realizes that this means that Vilna or the fortune teller is lying, which shakes his foundations, because Lutz is a soldier, “good and true”. 

Not very far away, a magician is performing at the Bliffendorf Opera House. He intends to summon a bouquet of lilies. Instead, this magician performs his greatest trick yet: he summons an elephant that crashes through the ceiling. This elephant lands on the legs of the woman the magician was trying to present the lilies to. She is crippled from that and the magician is arrested. The elephant is placed in a cage and then later bought by a rich noble woman to be displayed at her house. 

The elephant is the talk of the town, and Peter hears about it and believes that it will lead him to his sister, Adele. When Peter questions Vilna about his sister’s supposed death, Vilna admits that she didn’t die. Vilna was a good friend of Peter’s father. Adele was not placed in his care because she was just a newborn when she was orphaned. This makes Peter more determined to find her. 

Marshmallow is reading The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo.
Marshmallow is reading The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that The Magician’s Elephant is an amazing book. I always enjoy reading Kate DiCamillo’s books; all of her books are touching and elegant. And this one is especially good. I specifically like how DiCamillo goes into the backstories of all the characters and ties them all together at the end.

The Magician’s Elephant is also a great family book. The main message is simple and perhaps not surprising: even during hard times, family should stick together. But the way DiCamillo tells the story makes all the difference. I listened to this book with my family as an audiobook, besides reading the paper version, too. In both versions, I really enjoyed reading this book. All in all, I think it is a necessary addition to the library of anyone who likes reading children’s literature.

Kate DiCamillo also inserts a bit of a magical touch into this book. The summoning of the elephant and the fortuneteller’s ability to see are both interesting additions of inserting magic into an otherwise realistic storyline, and they make up a major part of this book. All together these make The Magician’s Elephant a touching book that is both realistic and magical, somewhere between fairy tales and realistic fiction.

The version of the book I read was illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. Tanaka’s full-page illustrations were black and white and simple, but contributed to the general magical atmosphere of the story.

I will read this book again.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo 100%.

Marshmallow reviews The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Marshmallow reviewed Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo before. Today she shares with us her thoughts on another book by DiCamillo: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. (The book bunnies were looking forward to seeing the theatre adaptation of Edward Tulane before the pandemic started. Maybe some other time…)

Marshmallow reviews The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.
Marshmallow reviews The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like Kate DiCamillo’s books or you enjoy books about friendship, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Edward Tulane is Abilene’s china rabbit and he thinks that he is very civilized. He has multiple suits that have holes for his tail, hats that have holes for his ears, and he even has a pocket watch that can be wound which Abilene, the little girl who owns him, does for him every day. When she goes to school, she wounds his pocket watch and tells him when she will come back.

When Abilene tells Edward that she loves him, he doesn’t give it a second thought, and instead thinks about the stars. He is very full of himself, and Abilene’s grandmother Pellegrina notices. One night, she tells Abilene a story about a beautiful princess who did not love anyone. At the end of the story, the princess is turned into a warthog and then eaten. When Pellegrina finishes her story, she comes over to Edward and says, “You disappoint me.”

Soon the Tulane family boards a ship that will take them to England, but Pellegrina stays behind. On the ship, two mean boys grab Edward from Abilene and toss him around. Abilene pushes on one of the boys and he misses the other, and so with that “Edward Tulane fell overboard.”

Marshmallow is reading the part of Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane where Edward finally has "the proper outlaw look"--now he finally looks "like a rabbit on the run".
Marshmallow is reading the part of Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane where Edward finally has “the proper outlaw look”–now he finally looks “like a rabbit on the run”.

Marshmallow’s Review: This is my favorite among Kate DiCamillo’s books that I have read so far. It is not part of a series so you can read it by itself.

In The Miraculous Journey, many years and months pass, and DiCamillo is able to make the reader believe that time actually passes.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane can be read by all ages of bunnies. Caramel and Sprinkles also really liked (listening to) it, but is probably best for young bunnies.

It is really neat to see how Edward’s character changes over the course of his journey. There are also many interesting characters. One of these is Pellegrina, Abilene’s grandmother, who Edward suspects had something to do with his journey. While Edward is in the ocean, he thinks about Pellegrina’s story and realizes that she is like the witch, in the sense that she is punishing him for not loving Abilene back while she loves him so much.

I think the best part is the end of the book, but I can’t tell you the end because it would spoil the book. So if you want to know the end you will need to read the book yourself.

Here is a trailer for the book I really enjoyed watching:

Marshmallow’s rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

The book bunny household has enjoyed almost every book they read of Kate DiCamillo. Today Marshmallow reviews one of her favorites: Flora and Ulysses.

Marshmallow reviews Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.
Marshmallow reviews Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you liked reading any other book by Kate DiCamillo, such as Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and  Mercy Watson, or if you like books about unexpected friendships, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): “Cynic” Flora Belle Buckman’s knowledge is put to the test when her neighbor runs over a squirrel with a vacuum. She knows a lot of things about tumors and other things that can go wrong in life. But one thing that she has yet to learn is how to perform CPR on a squirrel. Which is exactly what she does.

While the vacuum is about to suck up the squirrel, his only thought is, “FOOD!” Not, “I don’t want to die!” or “This is the end.” As the squirrel is waking up, he hears a voice, Flora’s, saying, “Breathe!” And so he does.

When he wakes up he is a different squirrel. And he is very, VERY hungry. So Flora sneaks him into her house. And she names him Ulysses after the vacuum that sucked him up (the Ulysses 2000X).

When Flora and her mother go to sleep, Ulysses goes and raids the pantry and then starts to type on Flora’s mother’s typewriter. He writes: 

“Squirtel! I am. Ulysses. Born anew.”          

Flora’s mother gets upset because she doesn’t know about Ulysses, and so she thinks that Flora typed it. When she eventually finds out about Ulysses, she tells Flora’s dad (they are divorced), to put Ulysses in a sack, then hit Ulysses on the head with a shovel (which will “put him out of his misery”), and then bury him with the shovel.

When Flora hears about this plan, she gets very upset. She is not only upset that her mother could be so cruel to a squirrel but also because she is upset about Mary Ann, her mother’s lamp. Flora’s mother says that she loves Mary Ann with all her heart even though she never says that about Flora. Flora is understandably upset, but she tries to ignore it by saying that she is a cynic and she doesn’t care, but she actually really does. 

Marshmallow is reading Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.
Marshmallow is reading Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.

Marshmallow’s Review: This book is both heartwarming and funny. Kate DiCamillo did a very good job of writing a funny book that can also make the reader happier.

Flora and Ulysses has a lot of interesting characters. For example, Ulysses the squirrel is a very interesting character and it is very funny how his only thought before he got sucked up by the vacuum and became smarter was, “FOOD!” Flora is also a very interesting character. She likes reading Incandesto, a comic book about a janitor who fell into a large pool of a cleaning liquid and became a superhero. And Flora really likes reading the comic strip that is at the end of every Incandesto book, called Terrible Things Can Happen to You! which is how she determines that she is a cynic. 

 Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo 100%.
Marshmallow rates Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo 100%.