Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

Believe it or not, I never got around to reading the Tale of Despereaux (same author). Based on the good feedback about it, I thought I’d like this one.

I don’t.

The story was a fine one. She writes well, but we part ways on a non-negotiable.

Namely: the orphan boy in the story consults a fortuneteller to find out if his sister is still alive. The teller gives him a mysterious answer, but one that makes sense as the story unfolds and he unravels the mysterious words of the fortune and circumstances of his life. Also, the pastors of the local churches are troubled by the fortune-tellers but not at all for the right reason. They simply don’t want them to get-out-of-hand. Nothing about the inherent dangers of playing with the occult is mentioned by them (or anyone else).

I cannot see why a child wouldn’t be intrigued by the idea of consulting a fortune-teller after reading this. It sounds valid and mysterious to boot.

To emphasize the point, the elephant is, indeed, conjured up by magic. Not the sleight-of-hand kind. A magician learns a genuine spell from an older magician. The spell conjures up an elephant that falls from the sky and lands on an older lady in the audience who is paralyzed by it. At the end of the book, he uses another incantation to conjure it away.

The book has a quasi-unreal feel about it at times, but the story and the magic is matter-of-fact and told in a real-world way.

Anyway, I don’t know what’s worse: taking the demonic too seriously, or not seriously enough. Either way, Satan wins. I’ll leave this book to those who are convinced that it’s “just” a fairy tale and fortune telling is fine.


See Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2115; 2116; 2117


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