Kate DiCamillo has a gift.
She also works with the most fantastic illustrators. All of her books have illustrations with gauzy, ethereal drawings that really compliment her stories.
The major themes in The Magician's Elephant, as in DiCamillo's other books, are hope and faith. I love the faith that Peter, the protagonist, maintains against all odds. Also, there's nothing better than a story where many different plot threads tie together beautifully at the end.