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Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Publication Date: 2006-03-07

Yes, this book was written for children, but as with any good book, it's for adults too.

Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Candlewick Press (Feb. 2006)

Listening Library: read by Judith Ivey (1 hour, 56 minutes)

Tony Award-winning actress Judith Ivey offers such a glorious reading of this glorious book that after hearing her read it, I bought the book. Okay, I admit it: I wanted to see the illustrations. They are worth the purchase price. At one point in the reading, I was so caught up in Edward's perilous adventures, I had to pull off to the side of the road so I could concentrate on the reading and forget the driving. Besides that, I had to wipe my tears. This is a perfect book for that commute to work; it will remind teachers to help children see what really counts.

Award-winning author Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey of selfishness and redemption, love and loss, heartbreak. . . . Well, I'm not giving away the ending. This tale is about a heart of the most breakable kind, the heart of a vain, pampered china rabbit named Edward Tulane. He has china arms and china legs, china paws and a china head, a china torso and a china nose. But his ears are made of real rabbit fur, as is his tail. And his heart? Well, that's central to the story.

His arms and legs were jointed an joined by wire so that his china elbows and china knees could be bent, giving him much freedom of movement.

His ears were made of real rabbit fur, and beneath the fur, there were strong, bendable wires, which allowed the ears to bearranged into poses that reflected the rabbit's mood--jaunty, tired, full of ennui.

In that last sentence, ennui means
a) enjoyment
b) boredom
c) sadness
d) wisdom

Just kidding. But that's how the Standardistos mutilate a fine word when it appears. In mutilating the word, they mutilate the work--and the child.

I suppose it's a vain hope to wish that this book never make it onto the Accelerated Reader list. They are sure to quiz the young reader on the chronology of Edward's adventures, offering interrogation on how long he lay at the bottom of the sea:
a) 297 days
b) 3 weeks
c) 2 years
d) 5 years

The rub is that children trained in our acquisitive culture won't read a book if it doesn't offer points toward sleazy gimcracks. But reading about the adventures of this china rabbit to acquire points just may be worse than not reading it at all.

Parents can get around the fact that kids are now trained to expect points for books they read by buying the recording and listening to it with their children. It will be time well spent.

School Library Journal and Booklist both offer starred reviews.

I would put this book on a list of readings for a professional development course because it offers the message that love is what's important. I once offered the proposal that teachers' contracts should be renewed only if someone was willing to stand up at a school board meeting and declare their love for the teacher in question. My feeling was then--and is now--that people who watch over our children must be capable of love, both the giving and the receiving. Kate DiCamillo expands on this theme in a story that will pull at your heartstrings. . . and inspire you to fight for what matters most.

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