Friday, February 02, 2007

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

DiCamillo, Kate. 2006. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
This week you’ve noticed that sometimes I begin reading books with slight traces of prejudice...I can judge a book on its cover...(or by what it says on its cover)...or based on what I’ve heard about it from other sources. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. If a book is being praised by everyone as the best book the world has ever makes me slightly skeptical. It’s like the book-world goes through phrases where certain books and authors are above criticism. They’re considered supreme. To disagree with their pronouncement that the book is perfect...simply shows your ignorance. There were two books this year that everyone seemed to be talking about: one was Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson, the second was the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Well, for those that might have missed my ongoing scorn of Octavian Nothing, let’s just say that something quite different happened when I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a book that is about one china rabbit’s adventures in a sometimes harsh world. He is commissioned by the grandmother for her granddaughter, Abilene.
Once, in a house on Egypt street, there lived a rabbit who was made entirely of china. He had china arms and china legs, china paws and a china head, a china torso and a chino nose. His arms and legs were jointed and joined by wire so that his china elbows and china knees could be bent, giving him much freedom of movement. His ears were made of real rabbit fur, and beneath the fur, there were strong, bendable wires, which allowed the ears to be arranged into poses that reflected the rabbit’s mood--jaunty, tired, full of ennui. His tail, too, was made of real rabbit fur and was fluffy and soft and well shaped. The rabbit’s name was Edward Tulane, and he was tall. He measured almost three feet from the tip of his ears to the tip of his feet; his eyes were painted a penetrating and intelligent blue. In all, Edward Tulane felt himself to be an exceptional specimen. (5-6)
He has everything a fine toy could want: fine clothes, a fine pocket watch, a girl who loves him, a nice home, a place of prestige among the other toys, and the love of his owner. Abilene loves him. Dotes on him. Treasures him. Yet Edward who has never known any other kind of life is unappreciative. It’s not that he dislikes his owner. The fact is that he’s disinterested in humans altogether. Preferring one over another has never occured to him. He has no love. He has no hate--unless its for neighboring dogs who try to pee on him or carry him in their mouths--or for thoughless maids who vacuum his ears and have the audicity to place him on the shelf with other dolls. He is not an emotional rabbit.
But that is just his first stop on a long journey. His starting place. When Edward accompanies the family on an ocean voyage, his luck begins to change. In the following days, months, years, even decades...his whole world is turned upside down over and over and over again. What he learns are valuable life lessons. What it means to love. What it means to lose someone you love. What it means to grieve. What it means to hope and despair. What it means to be content. What it means to be compassionate. He learns to be content with whatever his lot is in life. To be happy with the small longer is pride in possessions or appearance of the utmost importance. Gone is his dignity. Gone are the days when he could gloat and brag. Whether he is filling the need of an elderly couple who treat him like a young child...or comforting a dying girl in her last days on earth...or companionship for a hobo and his dog...or joy for a young boy as he dances for crowds. If there is a human emotion, he’s felt it. He’s learned through experience what it is to be alive. Here is his journey: the good, the bad, the ugly. Full of sadness, disappointment, heartbreak, despair, but also full of hope and love and joy.
I must admit that for me this book is all about the ending. Yes, Edward Tulane suffers. He suffers a lot. The moment things begin to look up, the moment that he’s happy and all is right with the world, that’s when his world is turned upside down again. Yet, Edward Tulane NEEDED a happy ending. The world wants a happy ending. In life there are times of suffering that no one can really explain away. No one can take the pain away, but to live life without hope of a better tomorrow seems worse than not living at all. Hope is needed. Love is needed. Edward Tulane illustrates this perfectly.
All that being said is Edward Tulane a book really for children? Or is it a children’s book for adults? I can only say this. I loved it as an adult, but I think its darkness would have frightened me as a child. Would it frighten every child? No! But for some--like me--there were places and feelings that I was not ready to go. The fact that this poor toy rabbit suffers one torture after another...that the book depicts death, loss, hate, and wouldn’t have worked for me then. It would have been disturbing to me. (Heidi was disturbing to me as was Wizard of Oz). But for the right child, this is a great book. Not every children’s book can be loved and appreciated and treasured by adults....this one can.
Does this mean that this book is the most perfectly perfect book in the whole world? No. I still feel no one book is ‘perfect’ for everybody. Everyone is different. Everyone has different needs. Everyone has different tastes. Different life experiences. Different backgrounds. But I can see why some people are putting this one on the top of their ‘best of 2006’ lists.


Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP