I recently realized I’d been skimping on read-alouds by choosing books my eldest daughter had already read, or by rereading old favorites. There’s a place for that—of course there is. But I’d leaned on old favorites for a couple of years and couldn’t remember, when pressed, when I’d last read a book to the family that enraptured her the same way it enraptured the younger girls.
I proceeded with haste to the pile of book in our bedroom, the one by my desk, made of books I set aside to pre-read and release as needed into the wilds of the family library. And from the top of the pile, I drew Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
How to describe this book? Everything about it—story, illustrations, even the format and font size—are just slightly unlike any other book we own. It’s a chapter book, but the way it’s arranged, with a large font and full-color illustrations, makes it accessible to young readers. The illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline (Great Joy) are stunning and add a beauty and gravity to the story.
And the story itself? Edward Tulane’s journey reminds me of The Velveteen Rabbit in the way it lends dignity to a toy rabbit and tells of his journey from toy to real rabbit. Edward’s journey, though, isn’t about becoming a real, live rabbit: his journey to become “real” is a deeper, more subtle one. It takes him outside the nursery and into the world, where he learns—one heart-breaking lesson at a time—what it is to love. And to love not just one person one time, but to love again, even after he learns that loving another opens him up to the possible pain of loss. Edward Tulane learns to love in a way that is costly to him.
This book spoke deeply to me, and I could see it working quietly on all of our daughters as we read it aloud before bed. At a time when it’s tempting to close ourselves off from those outside our household, rather than long for a closeness that we cannot have right now, I am profoundly grateful for The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. This book reminded us that love is worth the risk, worth the cost. And that costly love will be rewarded.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Kate DiCamillo; Bagram Ibatoulline (2006)