The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo was probably the first book we discussed that was not loved by all the members. Kate DiCamillo is also the author of The Tale of Despereaux, and The Magician’s Elephant has the same feel. It was a ‘quieter’ book than our previous selections – a more delicate tale with a bedtime story feel. Although not everyone loved the book, it did lend itself to some interesting discussions about fate, magic, and the power of dreams to make things a reality in one’s life.
I remember that we held our meeting outdoors, since it was towards the end of the school year and getting warmer. Having a change of venue can do wonders to the dynamics of the group and I highly recommend it when the opportunity presents itself. Even moving between the first half of the meeting (snack-devouring and character-discussion time) and the second half (snack-devouring and activity time) creates energy for both you and them!
The Magician’s Elephant has a terrific website with 6 magical activities and discussion questions: (http://www.themagicianselephant.com/#resources). I didn’t use the questions much since they focused more on comprehension of the reading material rather than discussing topics important to the kids. The activities however, were lots of fun (Magician’s Elephant ActivityKit). Make sure to give yourself some practice time so you can pull off the magic tricks without referring back to the instructions! the kids really enjoyed trying to figure out the tricks and then doing them on their own.