If you're looking for a book about love for Valentine's Day, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better choice than The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which goes on sale, appropriately, on Feb. 14. This latest story by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo revolves around an elegant china rabbit named Edward who belongs to a girl named Abilene and lives in an extremely elegant household. He has a wardrobe of handmade silk suits, custom leather shoes and an attitude to match. He is an utter snob, disdainful of most everything; his heart is as cold as the china of which he is made.
"You disappoint me," Abilene's grandmother tells Edward. She had him commissioned, but she doesn't like what he has become. So one night she tells a story about a princess "who loved no one and cared nothing for love, even though there were many who loved her." Deep in his cold heart, Edward knows the story is for him.
And so Edward's journey begins, as he, Abilene and her family board a ship, the Queen Mary. On deck some mean boys begin playing catch with Edward, and he ends up going overboard, deep into the sea. There he's caught in a fisherman's net, and taken to the first of many new homes.
To Edward's complete horror, the fisherman's wife calls him "Susanna" and dresses him like a girl. In his new home, however, his heart begins to stir. Later Edward is thrown into a dump and adopted by a hobo named Bull, who calls Edward "Malone." As the rabbit is tossed from one owner to the next, he comes to learn "what it was like to miss someone."
DiCamillo's newest offering is full of lovely, stately language, a riveting plot and a message that is heartwarming without being preachy. Fans of Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux will not be disappointed.
Rounding out this magnificent book are gorgeous illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline. At the beginning of each chapter are small duotone illustrations, plus 10 full-color, lavish plates. Drink them in; they are particularly pleasing in this day and age when simple, childlike art seems all too often the rage.
DiCamillo's plot will keep you riveted, reminding you of other wonderful fairy tales, especially those of Hans Christian Andersen. This tale has "destined to be a classic" written all over it, and it lives up to its great promise. Copyright 2006 BookPage Reviews.
ForeWord Reviews 2006 March/April
A story about the thoughts and feelings of a toy bunny can't help but call to mind The Velveteen Rabbit, that well-loved tale of a battered, longsuffering stuffed animal who longs to be real. Only a page or two of this book, however, is enough to dismiss the notion of much similarity between the two characters. Edward is a dapper porcelain rabbit who knows himself--with the possible exception of whiskers "of uncertain origin"--to be as grand a specimen as ever there was. Spending his days facing the picture window, he prefers winter, when the sun sets early and he can see his reflection in the glass. He sits at the family dinner table each evening, clad in custom-made outfits of the finest fabrics. The pampered, privileged rabbit suffers the occasional indignity, as when a maid vacuums his ears, handling him "as cavalierly as an inanimate object," or when he is picked up and shaken in the jaws of an errant dog. Saved by his mistress's mother's shouting "Drop it!," Edward feels his ego to be more bruised than his aching head: he'd been referred to as "it!" The author, whose children's stories include the 2001 Newberry Honor book Because of Winn-Dixie, paints Edward's circumstances with enough pathos and humor to render him charming, yet shows enough of his heartless self-importance to keep from being maudlin. It is Edward's character flaws, like the foibles of A.A. Milne's anthropomorphized animals, that make him real. Pompously aloof, Edward tolerates the adoration of his ten-year-old mistress with no compunction about his lack of reciprocal affection for her. He is merely puzzled by the story told by the girl's grandmother: a princess who doesn't love is spellbound by an evil witch--without redemption. When the girl decries the unhappy ending, her grandmother shrugs and replies: "How can a story end happily if there is no love?" This is DiCamillo's theme, and the miracle of Edward Tulane's journey is the miracle of learning to love. Through repeated accidents of abandonment and cold dismissals, Edward gradually experiences emotion: fear, despair, gratitude, humility. He finds a measure of understanding: the princess in the grandmother's story, he realizes, was punished because she didn't love. To DiCamillo's credit, appreciating the importance of love doesn't magically plant that feeling in Edward's heart. It does engender sensitivity, however, and Edward reveals himself to be a compassionate listener: "And in his listening, his heart opened wide and then wider still." When he is picked up by a poverty-stricken boy with a terminally ill little sister and an abusive father, the story turns a bit too sentimental, but this small departure from DiCamillo's typically comfortable balance between sweetness and wit is easily forgiven. The story ends with a satisfying twist of fate, completing a tale that is both delightful and moving. (March) Bonnie Deigh Copyright 2006 ForeWord Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Fall
Edward, a china rabbit with real rabbit-fur ears, lives a pampered life with Abilene, the little girl who loves him. Her devotion isn't returned, but when Edward's fortune changes, he learns to listen and love those who love him. DiCamillo writes tenderly and lyrically but with restraint. The old-fashioned sepia-toned drawings and full-color plates ground the fanciful story in a realistic setting. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #2
Edward Tulane is a china rabbit with real rabbit-fur ears and tail, a sumptuous wardrobe, and a pampered life with Abilene Tulane, the little girl who loves him. Her devotion isn't returned. Edward's heart is as chilly as his china body until his fortune changes and he spends some time in the muck at the bottom of the ocean. He passes through several hands over the years, found first by an elderly fisherman and his wife. With them, he learns to listen and to remember the stories they whisper to him, and his heart for the first time begins to wake up. Edward's journey continues -- he spends time in a garbage dump, travels around with a hobo and his dog, and lives with several others, learning to love those who love him. DiCamillo writes tenderly and lyrically but with restraint, keeping a tight focus on Edward's experience and gradual awakening. The book is physically beautiful as well, with cream-colored pages and a generous number of illustrations. Ibatoulline's appropriately old-fashioned sepia-toned drawings and full-color plates, which possess the same poignant quality as DiCamillo's prose, ground the fanciful story in a realistic setting. Although Edward (like the Velveteen Rabbit his story can't help but bring to mind) is the worse for wear, a happy ending awaits him. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 January #2
Once again, DiCamillo harkens back to an older storytelling style, filled with magic and the transformational power of love. Edward Tulane is a china rabbit--dapper and serious and more than a little superior. His mistress, Abilene Tulane, loved him and "thought almost as highly of Edward as Edward thought of himself." Edward is interested in little beyond his own comfort and beauty. Indeed, everyone except for Abilene's grandmother, Pellegrina, condescends to him. She commissioned his making, ordered his dapper clothing and smart pocket watch and, in the end, demanded a good deal more of Edward than he thought he wanted to give. Her warning, "You disappoint me," thrusts Edward into the adventure that becomes his life. He learns about love, loss and consequences. Somewhere between fairy tale and fable, DiCamillo spins the tale of Edward, transformed by the lives he touches. The reader will be transformed too. Sumptuous gouache illustrations complement the old-fashioned, dramatic narrative. Keep the tissues handy for this one. (Fiction. 7+) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2008 April #2
Is destined to become a timeless classic--as beloved as the treasured The Velveteen Rabbit. This touching story stars Edward Tulane, a selfish toy rabbit who learns about love after he falls overboard during a trip with his original owner. After being rescued, Edward begins an arduous journey from one owner to another, learning to love more than himself. Bagram Ibatoulline's exquisite illustrations enhance this unforgettable tale. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Library Media Connection - April/May 2006
I have read hundreds of books and only a few have brought tears to my eyes. Edward, a quite handsome and rather self-centered china rabbit, is transformed through a journey across time and space that takes him far away from the lap of luxury and the arms of the girl who loves him to the bottom of the sea, to a lowly fisherman's hut, to a garbage dump, to a tramp's shoulder, to a dying girl's bed-side, to a broken heap on the sidewalk, to a doll doctor's shop, to-the miraculous conclusion. He doesn't become real in the literal sense like the Velveteen Rabbit, but Edward learns to love and by learning to love he becomes real in a spiritual sense that is eternal. Bagram Ibatoulline illustrates the book with exquisite color art plates that enhance the text and add depth and texture to the words. A DVD interview with Kate DiCamillo accompanies the book. If one can buy only one new children's book, this is the one. Highly Recommended. Sharon Williams, Library Media Specialist, Biltmore Elementary School, Jacksonville, Florida © 2006 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 December #2
Reviewed by Katherine Paterson.
Although Edward Tulane resents being referred to as a toy, much less a doll, most of us would regard him as such. He is, in fact, a rabbit made mostly of china, jointed with wire at the elbows and knees, so that he has quite a range of motion. His ears are bendable wire, covered with rabbit fur, so that they can be arranged to suit his mood--"jaunty, tired, full of ennui." He has a lovely, fluffy rabbit fur tail, as well. He prefers not to think about his whiskers, as he darkly suspects their origin in some inferior animal. Edward, thanks to his owner's grandmother, has more clothes, and certainly more elegant clothes, than most children. He even has a little gold pocket watch that really tells time. But the most important thing that Edward has in his pampered life is the love of a 10-year-old girl named Abilene Tulane.
Surely, Edward Tulane is a rabbit who has everything--everything that is, but what he most needs. There will be inevitable comparisons of Edward Tulane to The Velveteen Rabbit , and Margery Williams's classic story can still charm after 83 years. But as delightful as it is, it can't match the exquisite language, inventive plot twists and memorable characters of DiCamillo's tale. Edward, unlike Rabbit, has never thought of himself as less than real, he just hasn't caught on to what it means to love anything or anyone beyond his own reflected image.
Until, that is, he is rudely set off on the miraculous journey of the title--a journey that begins when Abilene's grandmother tells her and Edward a strange fairy tale of a princess who does not know how to love, and whispers in Edward's ear, "You disappoint me." And the journey ends, as any true fairy tale should, with a happily ever after. But it is the journey from pride through humiliation, heartbreak and near destruction that brings Edward to that joyful ending.
Even in the galley stage, this is a beautiful book. Ibatoulline's illustrations are simply wonderful, and the high quality of the design incorporates luxurious paper and spaciously arranged blocks of text. But a story for today about a toy rabbit? Okay, I thought, Kate DiCamillo can make me cry for a motherless child and a mongrel stray. She can wring my heart following the trials of two lonely children and a caged tiger, and bring tears to my eyes for a brave little lovesick mouse, but why should I care what happens to an arrogant, over-dressed china rabbit? But I did care, desperately, and I think I can safely predict you will, too. Ages 7-up. (Feb.)
Katherine Paterson has won the Newbery Medal twice, for Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved, and The Great Gilly Hopkins won the National Book Award as well as a Newbery Honor.[Page 67]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gr 3-6 -This achingly beautiful story shows a true master of writing at her very best. Edward Tulane is an exceedingly vain, cold-hearted china rabbit owned by 10-year-old Abilene Tulane, who dearly loves him. Her grandmother relates a fairy tale about a princess who never felt love; she then whispers to Edward that he disappoints her. His path to redemption begins when he falls overboard during the familyâ€™s ocean journey. Sinking to the bottom of the sea where he will spend 297 days, Edward feels his first emotion-fear. Caught in a fishermanâ€™s net, he lives with the old man and his wife and begins to care about his humans. Then their adult daughter takes him to the dump, where a dog and a hobo find him. They ride the rails together until Edward is cruelly separated from them. His heart is truly broken when next owner, four-year-old Sarah Ruth, dies. He recalls Abileneâ€™s grandmother with a new sense of humility, wishing she knew that he has learned to love. When his head is shattered by an angry man, Edward wants to join Sarah Ruth but those he has loved convince him to live. Repaired by a doll store owner, he closes his heart to love, as it is too painful, until a wise doll tells him that he that he must open his heart for someone to love him. This superb book is beautifully written in spare yet stirring language. The tender look at the changes from arrogance to grateful loving is perfectly delineated. Ibatoullineâ€™s lovely sepia-toned gouache illustrations and beautifully rendered color plates are exquisite. An ever-so-marvelous tale.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY[Page 95]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.