Monday, November 12, 2018

Review - The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Date: 2000
Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA)
Reading level: MG
Book type: illustrated prose novel
Pages: 183
Format: e-book
Source: library

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 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 bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle -- that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm not a crier when it comes to books... but this one nearly had me in tears by the end.

My mom read this one herself years ago, long before I'd discovered Kate DiCamillo's books. She enjoyed it, and I sort of filed that information away, along with a vague notion that I should one day give this book a try. Now that I've read it, I really wish I hadn't waited so long. It's probably one of the best reads I've had all year.

DiCamillo has this way of writing for kids that challenges them and respects them as intelligent readers. She's not afraid to use big words or deep concepts. That's the case here, as well, with the story of a proud, somewhat-vain china rabbit who finds himself lost. Throughout his journey, he meets friends and enemies, and all the while he grows as a... well, not a person, but as an intelligent being. He learns to love, only to lose hope when he's separated from the ones he loves over and over again. But, eventually, the love returns, completing the miraculous journey that's just as internal as it is about travelling in the world.

In some ways, this seems like a fairy tale. In other ways, I was reminded of stories like The Velveteen Rabbit, with the theme of a toy being loved so much that it eventually becomes real. Edward was always "real", though; his journey had more to do with being his best rabbit self.

The illustrations are the perfect complement to the gentle story. Some are monochromatic, and others are in full colour, but each one helps Edward's world come alive in the mind of the reader.

I don't know if I can recommend this one enough. It's a great middle-grade read, as it's not too long, but it's perfectly suitable for older readers (including adults) as well. Kate DiCamillo has yet to disappoint me.

Quotable moment:

Edward hung by his velvet ears and looked up at the night sky. He saw the stars. But for the first time in his life, he looked at them and felt no comfort. Instead, he felt mocked. You are down there alone, the stars seemed to say to him. And we are up here, in our constellations, together.

I have been loved, Edward told the stars.

So? said the stars. What difference does that make when you are all alone now?

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Pace: 5/5
Writing & Editing: 4/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall Rating: 4.86 out of 5 ladybugs

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