I've never completely leaped on the Kate DiCamillo bandwagon. Some of her books I've liked, but I haven't loved anything yet. My favorites are the realistic books; her fantasies don't hit the mark for me somehow. The Magician's Elephant left me a bit cold. It tries to be a beautiful fable about believing in yourself and working to make magic real, but the mix of magic and realism didn't work for me.
The central idea is that a magician almost accidentally performs an act of true magic, calling an elephant to fall out of thin air, and this event causes a transforming cascade of events in the lives of an orphaned boy, his lost sister, a police detective, a rich woman crippled by the elephant, and the magician himself. Unfortunately, the moment the rich woman's legs are shattered by the bulk of the elephant, I was lost. How did the elephant survive? The cover shows it falling from the roof -- there is no way the pachyderm can avoid serious injuries . And if the magic is protecting the elephant, why not the lady? So my balance of disbelief was shattered, and the rest of the story proceeded without the glimmer of fairy tale that it needed. The people were too sweet, the coincidences too frequent, and I just felt like a scrooge for resisting. C+