Book Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

From iwalmartimages.com.

From iwalmartimages.com.

posted by Beret

Ages: 7 to 107

This book is miraculous indeed.

It is simply worded, beautifully illustrated, and hits like a sledgehammer.

Don’t be fooled by the flowery font on the cover, the sweet pencil sketches, or the gentle cadence of the first chapter. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is not a Hallmark commercial. It is not for the faint of heart. It is the sort of book which, when read aloud, makes your child look at you sideways and say, “Why does your voice sound tight and strange?”   

Bagram Ibatoulline's lovely illustrations. From his website:  batramibatoulline.com

Bagram Ibatoulline’s lovely illustrations. Please note:  Edward is not a girl, despite what a couple of drawings might suggest. From the artist’s website: batramibatoulline.com

My eight-year-old introduced me to Edward. Her teacher was reading it aloud at school, and each day she would come home and give me updates. I wasn’t really listening. Full disclosure:  sometimes I don’t pay full attention to every single word my kids utter. Maybe this never happens to you–you are probably a much better person. I made note of the title, however, and looked for it half-heartedly at the library. I didn’t try too hard because I didn’t understand the urgency.

Now I do.

When it finally turned up at our doorstep, my child immediately sat down and began reading it to me–because for some reason, it was very, very important to her that I hear this book. I had been tricked by its mild appearance, however, and was therefore expecting an ordinary little bunny book. I allowed my mind to wander a little.

Until.

The grandmother, Pellegrina, is telling her granddaughter a shocking story–not the expected grandmother-ish sort–which ends very poorly for the princess protagonist. She is, in fact, sliced open and eaten. As Pellegrina finishes the tale, she leans in toward Edward, and whispers in his fuzzy rabbit ears, “You disappoint me.”

What? What?!

At last, I am listening.

And suddenly, everything goes horribly awry for Edward.

That night, after my girls go to sleep, I pick up the book and take it back to my room for closer scrutiny.

I open to the inscription, and read this quote from Stanley Kunitz:

The heart breaks and breaks

and lives by breaking.

It is necessary to go

through dark and deeper dark

and not to turn.

Clearly, this is not your average kids’ book.

The book is 211 pages long, but the type is large, the lines spaced generously, and illustrations abound. A medium-sized person could read this in one sitting on a rainy day. I could have read it out loud in just a few evenings, but I meted it out for as long as possible–both to make it last, and to give myself time to recover in between pummelings. Did I mention this book packs a wallop?

What the book is about:

*Love

*Hubris

*Self-Absorption

*Listening (oh, the irony)

*Cruelty

*Unfairness

*Dysfunctional families

*Illness

*Death

*Punishment

*Loss

*Poverty

*Transience

*Tragedy

and–thank goodness!–

*Joy

I don’t want to reveal too much. Edward’s story should be discovered in the privacy of your own head and heart. I will just repeat what is said on the back cover:

Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, for 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.

Nota Bene:  Edward is not simply lost for a day or two. He is on the bottom of the sea; he is under a mountain of rubbish; he is bitten and hurled and nailed; he is loved and lost and loved and lost. I held my breath the whole way.

Hopefully, I have learned my lesson. At the very least, I will listen more attentively next time my child recommends a book. This is the best book I have read–for any age–in a long, long time.

©2014 Beret Olsen

©2014 Beret Olsen

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

  1. hi im 10 and when my teacher mrs pigula reads this to us for the first time i thoght it was gonna be so so so boring but then i grabd the book started readind for hours in my bed i love the book now i cant stop telling people to read it it has a strong grabing ending when it comes to the boy bryes and his sister and omg we even did intervwiews for the book (im the hobo king of garbage lol!) lolly is a jerk to that por por little china rabit how can that rabbit survive and be in perfect shape no cracks notin WOW! im so anxouise to know why grandma said (you disapoint me) proboly cuse she wanted all the attention and abline spent more attention on edward than her just like lolly! ps i love this book can u mail it to me if not i can buy it you know what ill buy it so u dont have to bother with it im sure your just writting other books that i cant wait to read and ill be so more intrested in im sure ill love it

    Like

    • Brooke, thanks so much for your message! I feel the same way–I expected to be bored by this book, and now I can’t stop telling other people to read it! Here’s my theory about grandma’s comment,”you disappoint me.” I think that at the time she said that, Edward didn’t love Abilene. He was too busy worrying about his clothes and how he looked to understand that the little girl loved him with her whole heart. He didn’t value that gift until he had lived through all of his horrible experiences. I seriously cried when the restaurant owner through Edward and broke him. What a great book! Now, I’m in the middle of reading Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, and really love it, but it’s nothing at all like Edward Tulane. I’ll ask my friend Gina what other books she recommends for you to try next.

      Like

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