Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator:   Bagram Ibatoulline 
For ages 9 to 12
Candlewick Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0763625894

Edward is a china rabbit who has everything he could possibly want in life; he has a comfortable home, lovely clothes to wear, and an adoring and loving little girl who insists that he should be with her at all times. Unfortunately Edward does not appreciate what he has. Indeed he is quite a heartless creature unwilling, or perhaps unable, to return his little mistress’s love.

Then Edward’s life takes a sudden turn. Soon after boarding the Queen Mary to go on an ocean trip with his mistress and her family, Edward ends up being thrown over the side of the ship. Lying face down at the bottom of the ocean Edward has many months to think about his circumstances. Luckily, after two hundred and ninety-seven days, a fierce storms stirs up the sea and soon Edward finds himself in a fishing net. The fisherman takes Edward home and before long the china rabbit is clean, dressed in new clothes, and living in a warm home where he is loved. This time Edward notices and appreciates the people who take care of him; he even begins to get quite fond of them.

Unfortunately Edward’s luck once again runs out and he is a taken from the fisherman’s house and thrown on a garbage pile. A hobo and his dog find Edward and soon the china rabbit is traveling all over the country in the company of these two gentle souls. Once again Edward becomes fond of his ‘family’ and they certainly become fond of him.

Again and again Edward finds himself having to leave those he becomes attached to, unable to control his own destiny. On he goes, and as he journeys he discovers what it is like to love someone and what it is like to lose them, what it is like to be the victim of cruelty, and what it is like to be a helpless bystander when someone else is being treated badly. Edward finally gets to the point where he is afraid to allow himself to care for the people that he end up living with. It hurts too much and it is easier not to care and to be indifferent.

This is an extraordinary account of how a selfish self-centered character finds love, loyalty, and the true meaning of what matters in life. The tale is told in a simple narrative style peppered with beautifully emotive descriptive sections. The reader is able to see how Edward opens up, how he learns to look at the world differently, and how he comes to love others without expecting anything in return.

Bagram Ibatoulline has created striking and moving illustrations in acrylic gouache for this very special volume. With great skill he takes certain scenes from the story and highlights them in his artwork, capturing the poignancy and significance of those scenes and helping to set the tone of the entire book.

This is a book which readers of all ages will find captivating and which may leave older readers thinking very hard about their own lives and priorities.