Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

27 01 2008

I’ve been reading a few chapters of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo and illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline each night before bed, but last night I just had to finish it, so engrossed was I by the journey of this china rabbit.

Here’s a brief overview of the plot.  The central character in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a somewhat proud – and dare we say haughty – china rabbit named Edward Tulane, who is owned by a little girl named Abilene.  She absolutely adores him, but Edward, more concerns about his clothes than his owners, does not yet understand what it means to love.  After being lost at sea, Edward journeys through several different owners and meets a series of joyous and dreadful events.  It is through these trials that he learns the true meaning of love.

It was the cover that first drew my attention and the illustrations in the book are truly lovely, capturing the melancholy whimsy of the story.

It is a story about love.  Edward, the author makes clear, near the start of the story does not truly love anyone or anything.  DiCamillo does this through a story that Abilene’s grandmother, Pellegrina tells to her granddaughter and, more particularly, to Edward.  After she tells the story of a Princess who is turned into a warthog because she cannot name one person ends badly for the Princess, Abilene questions her Grandmother about the ending:

“The end?” said Abilene indignantly.

“Yes,” said Pellegrina, “the end.”

“But it can’t be.”

“Why can’t it be?”

“Because it came too quickly.  Because no one is living happily ever after, that’s why.”

“Ah, and so.” Pellegrina nodded. She was quiet for a moment. “But answer me this: how can a story end happily if there is no love? But. Well. It is late. And you must go to sleep.”

Pellegrina took Edward from Abiline. She put him in his bed and pulled the sheet up to his whiskers. She leaned close to him. She whispered, “You disappoint me” (34).

Pellegrina’s words haunt Edward as he journeys out into the world and learns about both love and suffering.  It is about love, and the importance of love, but it is also about survival and what is really interesting is how those things intersect in this book.

What I found most interesting about the book is how complex Edward’s journey is – not his physical journey, but rather the one he goes through in his mind.  He learns that opening yourself up to love, also means opening yourself up to pain and suffering.  At points in the book, as another terrible thing has occurred, Edward shuts himself off, determined not to feel again, but then he does, and he is loved and he loves again and he hopes again and that is the most miraculous part of his journey.

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