Thought for the Day:

“Writing a novel is like a one-armed man trying to hammer together a chicken coop in a hurricane.”
~ William Faulkner ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Marsh Cassady wrote a great article HERE for the Institute of Writing with 12 Writing Tips for Building Convincing Characters.

I try really hard to give my future readers a reason to turn the page at the end of a chapter. Cliffhangers are good, but you can’t end every chapter with a cliffhanger. HERE Deborah Halverson has a good article on Deareditor.com to help you find other ways to end your chapters without losing momentum.

Names are incredibly important in our stories. They can carry a lot of weight. HERE is a terrific article by Keith Cronin on Writer Unboxed all about The Power of Names.

I haven’t mentioned Storyteller Academy in a while, but I am still a member and am working on some picture books. One of the perks of membership is getting a 30-minute one-on-one with an editor, agent, or published author to have a critique of a picture book manuscript. I recently had my session with an editor at a well-respected mid-level publishing house. I submitted a STEM picture book I have been working on for a while, and she gave me great feedback. She said she really liked what I had done, and had some wonderful suggestions for improvement, but best of all, she said she would be happy to have me submit it after I revise. I also had an agent request a full of my middle-grade novel after seeing the first 30 pages. Things are moving along. I will be disappearing for two to three weeks. Next weekend, my granddaughter, Gracie, and I will embark on a long road trip. We are heading to northern Minnesota to visit her brother, to the Twin Cities to visit relatives and go to the Minnesota Twins home-opener, and on to Milwaukee to visit the Harley-Davidson Museum, a bucket-list item for me. We will head south and take Route 66 back to California, stopping in Albuquerque to visit two of my sisters and niece. I think we will be gone two weeks, but it could be a day or two longer. I am still having so much trouble with WordPress that I don’t feel comfortable setting up blog posts to automatically post. So I will see you when I get back.

I received some ARCs from Candlewick Press recently, and among them was a new edition of Kate DeCamillo’s The Magician’s Elephant. I don’t know how I missed this when it first came out, but I did. I’m really glad I requested it. It is absolutely charming. I was also interested to see that was a new Netflix film based on it. I read the book early last week and then waited a few days to watch the film. Hmmm. Very interesting.

In the town of Baltese, young Peter, an orphan, is at the market shopping for bread and fish for the old soldier who cares for Peter and is teaching him to be a soldier. As Peter is shopping, he spots a fortune teller’s tent. He sees that he can have one question answered for one coin. He only has one coin, and he should be spending it on food, but he also has one burning question — does his sister still live. The old soldier has told Peter his sister was stillborn, but Peter has a memory of a crying baby. The fortune teller takes the coin and tells Peter to follow the elephant to find his sister, then the fortune teller disappears. There is no elephant in Baltese! Peter feels he has been hornswoggled. But that very night, a magician — trying to conjure up some lilies for Madame La Vaughn in the front row — drops an elephant in her lap instead. Her legs are crushed and she will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. The magician is jailed and the elephant is chained up in the palace of the Count and Countess Quintet.

Meanwhile, Leo Matienne, an officer of the law, and his wife live in the same building as Peter and the soldier. The Matiennes have no children and wish for them. Peter asks Leo for help getting to see the elephant so it can lead him to his sister. It will be no easy task, but if anyone can help Peter, it is Leo Matienne.

Kate DiCamillo

This is a sweet story, and the writing is lyrical and charming. C’mon. It’s Kate DiCamillo. What else would you expect? She is such a spectacular writer. The story is a compelling one with characters readers will care about and believe. One can’t help but root for Peter and the mission he is on to find his sister and a second mission he takes on when he realizes how lonely the elephant is and how she needs to go home. Showing his true character, Peter works to get the elephant home even though he realizes it might prevent him from finding his sister. What a story! I loved it.

I sat with it for a few days before turning on the film. Honestly, the film was very, very different from the book. But it didn’t really bother me. I found that the film had its own charm, some new and interesting characters (I loved the king!), and a different and fun way for Peter to solve his problems. I wouldn’t suggest watching the film too soon after reading the book, but I think they are both worth your time.

I know I’m going to be gone for a couple weeks, so you will have to wait to see who wins the book, but I do have a gently-read ARC for one of you. All you need to do is be a follower (it’s free and easy — see the top, right corner of the post) and leave a comment. If you share the link to this post on social media, please let me know in your comment, and you will get extra chances. And please don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

32 thoughts on “THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT — Review & Giveaway”

  1. You can’t go wrong with a Kate Di Camillo book. I still think Because of Winn-Dixie might be my favorite. Congrats on all of your promising leads, Rosie. I’ve been to the Twins ballpark as one of my brothers is a huge Minnesota fan.


  2. Very exciting writing news, Rosi! Best of luck with both books! Also enjoy your (well-deserved!) holiday, it sounds fun! The book sounds like one I would like, that’s for the recommendation!


  3. Sounds like a wonderful trip planned. Be safe and have fun. And congratulations on the writing news! I love Kate Di Camillo, especially Because of Winn Dixie. I’ve tweeted your post.


  4. This is one of my favorite authors. I read the original book when it first came out and would love to reread it before watching the movie (I honestly didn’t remember the plot until reading this post). I hope you have a fun trip! I shared on Facebook, Twitter, and tumblr.


  5. What an interesting concept for a book. I’d love to forget my age and read this lovely story.

    Have a wonderful trip, great weather, great visits, and Go Twins!


  6. I’m supposed to be revising as fast as I can but saw your news in my email and had to pop on to say congratulations! An editor request and an agent full–and on two books! This is fantastic news and I will be cheering things on from here in hopes this lands you your big break! 🙂

    This book sounds lovely, and I’ll be on the lookout for it. Totally agree that Kate DiCamillo’s writing is always a joy to read, and the story sounds really intriguing, too. Thanks for the recommend and good luck with your weeks off!


  7. Congratulations on your two manuscripts. Hope the future bodes well for them both. Fantastic links to enjoy during lunch today. The one on chapter endings really has me thinking! Great share with your review. I’ve read the book and enjoyed it very much. Haven’t seen the movie yet but will do so sometime this spring. Happy MMNGM!


  8. You deserve a couple weeks off, considering this post had a GREAT quote of the day, and fun cartoon, great news on the writing front, and a super fun sounding book as well. I hope you have smooth travels, great weather for the Twins game, excellent visiting, and a happy homecoming when it’s done.

    I’ll be sharing this on Facebook and Twitter.


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