The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo. Published in 2006.
Edward Tulane was a rare and delicate china rabbit, greatly loved and well cared for by the child who owned him, a little girl named Abilene. Abilene adored Edward, treating him as a real and true friend. He even had a seat at the family’s dining table.
Although Edward being made of china, could not express himself to those around him, he thought a great deal about many things. Among them was his near constant sense of pleasure with himself. He was pretty haughty in fact, right up until the day he got lost. Separated from Abilene, Edward begins a journey that lasts many years giving him a new perspective and appreciation for all kinds of people from different walks of life.
I read this book a couple of months ago in order to decide whether or not it would be appropriate for our second grader, who was drawn to it by curiosity brought on by the cover art when she found it on our permanent book shelf. I wasn’t sure if some of the themes were too advanced for her despite her reading ability, but decided to allow her to read it.
Her assessment was that the story was good, however that some chapters were too sad for a children’s book. We have been careful to avoid the post-modern habit of only exposing our children to the most sanitized, upbeat versions of classic stories and fairy tales. Therefore based on her reaction, I concluded that some of the themes explored may be a little intense for children younger than 9 or 10.
Edward spends time with hobos, with a poor family caring for a terminally ill child, and several other interesting characters on his miraculous journey before coming full circle to where it all began.
I enjoyed this book a good deal and recommend it. Read the first chapter here for a teaser.
Content advisory: terminal illness, parental alcoholism, shades of potential mental illness, and child abuse are a few of the themes touched on in this book. In my opinion, these things are presented with delicacy and simplicity so as not to overwhelm young readers. It’s certainly nothing an average 4th grader couldn’t handle and process just fine.