The Magician’s Elephant

The Magician’s Elephant

Written by Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, Published by: Candlewick Press, 2009

 

This book!!!!!

I can hardly find words to describe how stunning this brilliant piece of art is. Of all of Kate DiCamillo’s wonderful, award-winning books, this one is my favorite.

Although only ten-years-old, Peter Augustus Duchene seems wiser than his years. He lives with his guardian, an old soldier, in a city called Baltese. This charming, old city makes one think of old-world Europe from a long time ago, Prague, Budapest, Paris.

A cold, bleak winter shrouds this city, one to put you in mind of a Dickens’ winter.

“The skies were filled with thick, lowering clouds that obscured the sun and condemned the city to a series of days that resembled nothing so much as a single, unending dusk.”

Cold, hungry and lonely, and trying hard to “be a soldier, honorable and true,” Peter has one wish in his heart. He longs to find out if his younger sister is still alive.

A fortune teller, a magician who calls an elephant out of nowhere, a city full of people longing for something, and the beauty of magic, are all sewn together to create one of the most graceful stories I’ve ever read. It makes me cry every time.

I read this book to the kids aloud, and, if possible its beauty grew. DiCamillo’s words hum like poetry that reaches in and tugs on your heart. Each word, each page, each scene, all are exquisitely drawn. Yoko Tanaka’s gorgeous illustrations add another layer to that mystical old-world feeling.

This book is about being lost and found, longing and family, desire and hunger, darkness and light, grief and love, memories, despair and hope.

And most of all magic. Perhaps the magic of hope, or the hope of magic, that everything is somehow connected with a golden thread. The Magician’s Elephant overflows with magic, and not just the impossible, but the unique magic that lives in all of us, every person, every star. We are all of us stars, shining brightly.

For me the true meaning of this story can be found near the very end with the elephant.

“Sometimes, though, when she was walking through the tall grass or standing in the shade of the trees, Peter’s face would flash in front of her, and she was struck with a peculiar feeling of having been well and truly seen, of having at last been found, saved.”

We all want to be “well and truly seen” don’t we?

If you’re looking for a special book, find somewhere cozy to read, grab a copy of The Magician’s Elephant, and let Kate DiCamillo wave her magic wand over you. And here at Wild for Books, we feel this book is most magical when read aloud with someone you love.

Guest Post by Zoe Henry

Our friend, Zoe, age 9, from Bainbridge Island, Washington is here to write a guest post for Wild for Books on Raina Telgemeier’s awesome graphic novel, Ghosts.

First we want to tell you how crazy we are about Zoe (and her super parents, Shannin and Jason!)

Zoe at the Pumpkin Patch

Zoe was born 9 years ago with CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia) at Legacy Emanual Hospital in Portland, Oregon where doctors performed their medical mojo and saved her life.

Attached to a heart and lung bypass for the first two weeks of her life, Superhero Zoe has been smashing obstacles ever since. Surgeries, pneumonia, life flights, g-tubes, central lines, expensive medicines to keep her alive. No matter what this kid faces, she puts on her superhero cape and soars through life with passion, humor, intelligence, kindness and so much compassion!

Because Zoe’s lungs were unable to grow correctly she now has pulmonary hypertension, and boy are we hoping for a cure someday soon!!! (Find out how to donate to the Pulmonary Hypertension Foundation and other great resources at the end of the post!)

Lily and Zoe have been friends since they were babies and we miss her like crazy! And Lily loves Raina Telgemeier’s books too, so when we found out Zoe picked Ghosts for her fist ever book report, we invited her to share her review with Wild for Books. The character, Maya, has cystic fibrosis, and while it’s not the same as pulmonary hypertension, Zoe definitely can relate to a child who has trouble breathing.

Ghosts

By Raina Telgemeier

Review by Zoe Henry, Age 9

Maya and her sister Cat moved to a new town because Maya got sick. They met a boy named Carlos who does ghost walks. Then Maya got sick again from the ghosts taking her air. Then it was Halloween and Day of the Dead. They met the ghost of a little boy. They found out the ghosts are their ancestors’ family.

I like Ghosts because it’s about a girl who needs oxygen but is still strong and determined, and about Day of the Dead and Halloween night.

 

From Zoe’s mom, Shannin

She picked the book Ghosts because she loves that it is about a girl who has bad lungs and needs oxygen. We spent the last few weeks reading through the book together talking about how it feels to be sick, what traditions are, and how family is still with us even after they die, and different customs in different cultures. Heavy topics for a 9-year-old.

She then wrote this report by herself, we baked some Dia de los Muertos marigold and skull cupcakes and she’s bringing an oxygen canula to school to show her class after she recites her report. So freaking proud of this kid and her determination!

I love that Maya is a kid who isn’t scared. She looks for adventure and faces things with courage even when she doesn’t feel well. She’s a little girl having fun!

Dia de los Muertos Cupcakes

 

From Sara at Wild for Books

This graphic novel is such an enjoyable read, and the gorgeous pictures speak words of their own and draw you right into the scene. But it’s so much more than that. There are many heavy topics in this book, and Raina writes about them with such tenderness and compassion and insight. Cystic fibrosis, moving away to a new place and leaving all your friends behind, how siblings deal when they have a sick brother or sister, exploring different cultures, and ultimately, courage.

Currently there are no cures for cystic fibrosis or pulmonary hypertension. Both diseases have great foundations working towards finding cures if you’re interested in donating. I’ll share the links below as well as links to Make-A-Wish and Tiny Superheroes, two additional outstanding organizations for kids who are sick or have special needs.

Thanks for writing for us Zoe!! We miss you and love you!!

Here are 4 great places to donate if you’re interested!

Pulmonary Hypertension Association

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Tiny Superheroes

 

BOO! A Few Tricks & Treats for Your Halloween Library

October is the month for goblins and ghosts and all things creepy, including a few spooky Halloween books for your haunted house.

I’m a tiny bit scared to admit this, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Halloween. Maybe it’s the introvert in me, maybe it’s the trauma from my childhood Halloween costumes, most of which I made myself, maybe it’s just all that black and orange, maybe I just don’t like to be spooked. Who knows! But Lily & Jasper love Halloween!!! They have forced me to engage, even when I just want to hide under the covers.

And, it turns out, we do have some spookily awesome books to share with you that fit deliciously into the trick or treat basket. Here are our 3 Favorite Spooky Halloween Books. We know there are more out there, but please don’t scare me anymore!

 

1. Creepy Carrots

Words by Aaron Reynolds, Illustrations by Peter Brown

This book has been one of our favorites for the last few years!

It’s a fun, silly adventure about a rabbit who’s afraid of carrots because they seem to be haunting him and following him everywhere! The rabbit’s name is Jasper which is an awesome characteristic about it for one particular kid in this house. And the creative, dark illustrations are by Peter Brown, who we adore!

Are the carrots really haunting Jasper Rabbit, or is he losing his mind? And what will he do to solve this frightening problem? Dive in to find out.

If you love this one, the amazing duo of Reynolds and Brown just came out with another adventure for Jasper Rabbit called, Creepy Pair of Underwear.

 

 

2. I Love You More Than the Smell of Swamp Gas

Words & Pictures by Kevan Atteberry


Okay, this book is AWESOME!! It’s hilarious, clever, spooky fun for all the little monsters in your life.

Are monsters allowed to be cute? Well these monsters certainly are. The pages in this book are full of super cute “scary” creatures. A parent monster and child monster creep through the forest meeting purple-horned skunks and bloodsucking ducks, creatures hidden and not, while the parent monster describes all the ways he loves the little one.

Come along through the swampy forest as they dance over toe biting stones, encounter mummified bass, and banter their love back and forth. And just try to resist a snuggle with those seriously adorable spiders!

It’s gross and sticky and stinky and so creative! Everything little kids love, including the safe, goodnight-tuck-into-bed at the end. And it’s our favorite Kevan Atteberry book ever!

“Do you love me as much

as the BUBBLING SLIME

that covers our feet

in a THICK GOOEY GRIME?”

“I treasure you more

than the SLOW OOZING MUCK

squished through our toes

as we pull them unstuck.”

 

4. Serafina and the Black Cloak

by Robert Beatty

This creepy book shrouded in mysteries might give me nightmares! Consider yourself warned. Lily and I discovered this book at the same time, and when she said she was reading it at school, and that I “had to read it!” I wondered if it might fit into our Halloween Spook Fest, and IT DOES!!!

12-year-old Serafina lives a hidden life in the basement of Biltmore Estate with her father. No one knows of her existence and her father insists she keep it this way. Nocturnal by nature, not afraid of the dark or long hidden hallways in the underbelly of this mansion, Serafina prides herself on being the CRC (Chief Rat Catcher) for Biltmore. Yes, she catches rats, ewwwwweeee!!! Remember, I said, nightmares are possible.

Like all young heroes and heroines, Serafina finds herself no longer content with her life the way it is. She wonders where she came from, what happened to her mother, why her father doesn’t want anyone to know about her, and her greatest wish is to be seen. When a freaky, disgusting creature in a black cloak starts “disappearing” children from the estate, in an eerie, spooky, nightmarish way, Serafina embarks on a journey into the forbidden forest, full of demons, to save the children and ultimately unravel the mystery of her own life.

Lily says, “There’s lots of spooky, creepy detail in this book so you feel like you are there, and it’s especially creepy when the man in the black cloak is devouring children, because there’s this rattling sound,” Yep, creep factor 1000!

Looking for a strong, unique, and clever heroine for a middle grade reader in your Frankenstein clan, Serafina is the girl for you. And I love that we just discovered her, and that it’s a series so we can read more about her in Serafina and the Twisted Staff, and Serafina and the Splintered Heart.

Have a safe, spooky, haunted Halloween everyone!

The Wild Robot

The Wild Robot

The Wild Robot

Written & Illustrated by Peter Brown

Published by Little, Brown and Company, April 2016

Oh my gosh, this is one of the best books we’ve read! Even, or maybe especially, in its simplicity.

Roz the robot gets tossed out of a ship in a crash landing and washes up on shore of a wild island. She knows only that she must survive.

Crazy weather, baby bears who attack her, uncontrollable tumbles down the mountainside, Roz encounters all of these and more. She even faces discrimination from the animals who treat her like a monster to be feared.

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All Four Stars

All Four Stars by Tara DairmanAll Four Stars

by Tara Dairman

Published by G.P.Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin!

This book is the first in a wonderful, fun, delicious series about a young foodie named Gladys Gatsby. When we meet 11-year-old Gladys in All Four Stars, she has accidentally lit the kitchen curtains on fire while making crème brûlée in her family’s kitchen. Her parents, horrible cooks themselves, ban Gladys from cooking, and urge her to use her time to make friends as she begins 5th grade.

But Gladys loves to cook, and it’s not as easy to make friends as one might think, especially for shy, awkward Gladys.

In a case of mistaken identity, Gladys’ entry in the 5th grade essay contest gets sent to the food editor of the New York Standard newspaper, and Gladys gets hired as the newest restaurant critic, although the editor has no idea how old Gladys is.

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2017-10-24T06:04:41+00:00 October 4th, 2017|Categories: Ages 9-12, Reviews, Series|Tags: , , , , , , |8 Comments