„Elefantul magicianului” de Kate DiCamillo

Pentru cei care ne vizitează și ne cunosc, știu că avem o slăbiciune pentru Kate DiCamillo. S-a întâmplat după ce Luca a văzut și citit Miraculoasa călătorie a lui Edward Tulane. Nu voi uita niciodată reacția lui, una care este și acum plină de surâs atunci când vine vorba despre acest subiect.

Odată citind una dintre scrierile ei, am căutat și achiziționat cam tot ceea ce a apărut pe piața românească. Și așa am citit despre Despereaux, Flora și Ulise și ne-am bucurat, recomandându-le și altora. Următoarea pe listă este „Because of Winn Dixie” și cred că peste puțin timp vom putea să vă povestim și despre ea.

Dar să revin la Elefantul magicianului, cea pe care tocmai am terminat-o.

Dacă ar fi să spun un cuvânt despre ea, doar unul, aș spune „gri” dar nu în sensul de tern, cenușiu, plictisitor.
Am spus „gri” pentru că e o poveste serioasă, în care sunt amestecate fapte reale cu fapte magice, împreună formând un tot care te îndeamnă să-l afli.

O carte care ne aduce o poveste frumoasă, plină de emoții legate de teme adevărate, în care legăturile de familie se dovedesc a fi foarte puternice.
O poveste fermecătoare care se cere a fi citită cu voce tare și care nu cred că este adresată doar copiilor.

Un băiețel, Peter Augustus Duchene, încearcă să-și găsească sora cu ajutorul altor personaje: un bătrân soldat infirm, un magician, un elefant, un cerșetor și câinele lui orb, un polițist și o contesă.
Toți reușesc să țeasă o poveste despre adevăr, dragoste și speranță.

Totul începe când bâiețelul risipește banii dați de tutorele lui, Vilna Lutz, un bătrân militar infirm, pentru a cumpăra cei mai mici pești și o bucată de pâine, pe o ghicitoare care spune că-i poate da răspunsul la cea mai chinuitoare întrebare: trăiește sau nu, sora lui Adele?

Urmează o serie de întâmplări pe care nu doresc a le dezvălui, pentru a nu fura farmecul, dar trebuie să mărturisesc că povestea are tot ce-mi place într-o carte pentru copii potrivită și adulților: mister, minune, speranță, uimire, imaginație și scriere frumoasă.

O întrebare care s-a tot ivit a fost aceea, de ce autoarea a optat pentru introducerea în poveste a unui elefant iar răspunsurile au fost diferite, pe măsură ce am înaintat în acțiune, alături de personajele nou apărute.

Am căutat și versiunea în limba engleză pentru a se putea citi fragmente și așa.

Book: The Magician’s Elephant

Am scris și câteva întrebări la care micul cititor să răspundă și pe care le găsiți mai jos, poate veți dori și voi să răspundeți.

Elefantul magicianului

Mi-ar plăcea o activitate alături de mai mulți copii pentru că sunt convinsă că ar fi incitant și foarte interesant de aflat părerea lor.

Până atunci, vă las să vă delectați cu un interviu dat de autoare, dar și de ilustratorul cărții, Yoko Tanaka, asta pentru a vă convinge că merită să o achiziționați pentru a o citi. Pentru că, nu-i așa?, nimic nu se compară cu mirosul de tipăritură nouă și cu sentimentul pe care-l ai atunci când ții o carte în mâini. Spor la citit!

A Q&A with Kate DiCamillo
author of The Magician’s Elephant

What is your definition of magic? What has happened in your life that is magical or unexpected?

I guess my definition of magic is something very close to the definition the magician gives toward the end of the story: „Magic is always impossible. It begins with the impossible and ends with the impossible and is impossible in between. That is why it is magic.” I would add, though, that while magic is impossible from beginning to end, it is also possible. Somehow (who knows how?) the impossible gets turned into the possible. That’s magic.

Which leads very nicely into the next part of this question: What has happened in my life that is magical or unexpected?
Telling stories seems like magic to me; it seems both impossible and possible in that same way. And what has happened to me and my stories — people reading them, liking them, and me getting to make my living telling them — well, talk about unexpected. Talk about magical.

The Magician’s Elephant features an animal character. This is a common theme in your novels. Why an elephant this time?

I didn’t think, Oh boy, I’m going to put an elephant in a story. I guess it happened this way: The story began for me with the magician and the fact that he wanted to perform real magic, true magic. That magician appeared before me in the lobby of a hotel in New York City. I had, in my satchel, a notebook that I was going to give as a gift to someone. The notebook had an elephant on the cover. And when I went into my bag to get my notebook to write a description of the magician I had just caught sight of, I happened to see that other notebook, the one with a picture of an elephant on the front of it.

Was there a specific place that inspired the setting for the city of Baltese?

No, but after I finished writing The Magician’s Elephant, I saw a movie that took place in Bruges, and I couldn’t concentrate at all on what was happening in the movie because I was so struck by how much Bruges looked like the city of Baltese, the city I had imagined.

The fortuneteller tells Peter that „truth is forever changing.” Why is this an important line in the story, and why did you want to share it with children in general?

I think this comes back to the whole idea of the impossible suddenly becoming the possible. We have to remain open to those moments when everything can change. I actually think that children are much better at doing this than adults are because they are much less likely to see things in a black-and-white way. All of us, children and adults, need to remind ourselves that the impossible can become possible. That’s one of the great gifts of stories.

What was your predominant feeling while writing this book? Was it faith, or fear? Do you know how your endings will turn out when you start?

Oh, I’m always afraid when I’m writing. And I never know how things will turn out. This time around it was particularly terrifying because there were so many different balls up in the air, and I had no idea how I would catch them all. But even though I was terrified, I was also, in a strange and wonderful way, healed by the telling of this story. I got out of my own way and let the story tell me how it would all come together. At the same time, I felt something come together, kind of knit itself, inside of me.

How do you feel about the illustrations? Have you ever met Yoko Tanaka?

I think the illustrations are an astonishment, a wonder, a marvel. They literally take my breath away. They are haunting and otherworldly and just exactly right. I have never met Yoko, no. And yet she painted the world I imagined.

Isn’t that strange and wonderful?

Impossible, but true.

A Q&A Yoko Tanaka, illustrator of
The Magician’s Elephant

What was your first reaction when you were asked to illustrate a novel by Kate DiCamillo? Were you familiar with her work?

When I was first contacted about The Magician’s Elephant, my schedule was very tight, with two upcoming gallery shows, and I almost didn’t take the job. I wasn’t familiar with Kate’s work at that time. But my agent, Steven Malk, suggested very strongly that I read the story. When I read the manuscript for the first time, I was simply amazed, and I immediately asked one of the galleries to postpone my show. I’m so fortunate to have been able to work on this project.

How did you decide on the palette and style for the illustrations?

It was a very lucky thing that I saw the scenes of the story so vividly in my mind when I read it. I also felt that the story had an atmosphere and tone that were similar to what I create in my regular work. So the palette and style just naturally emerged. And Candlewick’s creative director, Chris Paul, gave me wonderful direction.

Were there many ideas or drafts that you went through before deciding on the right one for each illustration? What was your creative process for making each piece of art?

As I mentioned earlier, I had a strong impression of each scene as I read it, so it wasn’t difficult to capture these scenes in sketches. The dificult part for me was deciding how much detail I should show in the images. It’s a story that takes place some hundred years ago somewhere in Europe, but that’s not the point of the story at all. I did lots of research about the architecture and clothing of the period, but I used it minimally.

Which is your favorite of your illustrations for The Magician’s Elephant?

My favorite illustration is in chapter 13, when Peter eats stew at Leo’s house. I especially like this chapter because it describes so well how Peter’s frozen mind is melted by his conversation with Leo and Gloria — and by Gloria’s stew. I hope my illustration captures their emotions.

Did you do anything differently for this book, stylistically or artistically, that you had never done before?

Doing precise character sketches was something new for me. But it helped so much when I worked on each scene later on. It was also suggested that I create a „height scale” for all the characters, and this helped even more to make them come alive clearly in my mind. (sursa:

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