The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo might just be one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. Actually, I haven’t read it–I’ve listened to it being read by Judith Ivey in a Listening Library audiobook production. (The link on the right below is to the audiobook.) Because I get a whole lot more out of a story if I read it myself (‘though I do enjoy audiobooks), I’m afraid I won’t do this lovely, lovely story justice in this review. However, I am so excited about it that I just have to share it, even before I locate a copy of it to read it myself.
I’m no stranger to Kate DiCamillo’s works–to date I’ve read Because of Winn Dixie, Tiger Rising, and The Tale of Despereaux, and as a family we’ve listened to a few of the Mercy Watson tales (which I reviewed here). Before listening to Edward Tulane, Tiger Rising was my favorite of DiCamillo‘s works. I think she is an amazingly talented author who can distill the big issues of life–love, loss, empathy, hope–into stories that even young children can understand. Did I mention that I actually checked Edward Tulane out for my girls? (Well, truthfully, I had every intention of listening to it myself–how could I resist after reading this review at Library Hospital?) Lulu and Louise have listened to this audiobook twice, and they would’ve listened to it a third time if I hadn’t positively insisted that they go play instead of hanging out with me in the kitchen while I listened to the story and cleaned out the freezer. 😉
This is a summary of the book, borrowed from the author’s website:
Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who treated him with the utmost care and adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost.
Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the top of a garbage heap to the fireside of a hobos camp, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. And along the way, we are shown a true miracle: even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.
I’m not sure just how DiCamillo can write a story about a selfish, self-absorbed china rabbit and make it so touching that by the end of the story, I’m crying, but she did it with this one. This story is very slightly reminiscent The Velveteen Rabbit, but I’ve never read a version of The Velveteen Rabbit with half as much heart as this story. I think The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane might even be considered allegorical at times, and I’m pretty certain that I could wring some Christian symbolism out of it if I were asked to do so, but I won’t. What I will say is that this book is all about hope–how that even the most hardened of hearts can be changed through the miracle of giving love to another. It’s in the giving, not the receiving, that the miracle takes place.
If you only read one kid’s book this year, make it The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Highly, highly, highly recommended.
(If I ever get my hands on a copy of this story, I can almost guarantee you that I’ll come back and post some quotes. It’s a beautiful story and quotable, to boot.)