Wednesday, July 4, 2012

YA Novel Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward TulaneThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How many times can I write "Wow!" about a children's book? Not enough.

Kate DiCamillo's charming The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane stands alone as my favorite book that I've read this year. An adult or adolescent can read this book in under two hours--in that respect it is all children's book.

I put it down to pause and exhale a "wow" many many times.

As is the case in any book, film, or television show, story matters. DiCamillo's story is about loss, redemption, finding the ability to love within oneself, hope, being broken, and the power of time. I'm especially sensitive to the power of time in novels ever since an all too brief summer (1995) studying at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. Part of my enlightenment was that Shakespeare often devalued magic in his plays, and took great care to demonstrate that the real power and beauty in the world is in time.


It takes Edward Tulane many years and (a toy rabbit made of china, wire, and some fluffy stuff) a truly "miraculous journey" to undergo a change. Once self-centered and arrogant, the toy passes hands to many different types of owners. At times, he lays forgotten and lost in a garbage dump and at the bottom of the sea...for years and years. I love DiCamillo's patience in this regard. She makes her characters suffer.

Of course, her story has purpose without giving anything away or sacrificing her hand as at each stop along the way, Edward's shell wears away until both metaphorically and literally he is shattered.

Edward is broken.  He comes to understand the power and truth behind the line, "If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless."

DiCamillo writes a story about what it means to be human. She shows us our humanity through a once little supercilious china doll.

But like in so many instances in a life, change is possible.

It just takes a little time...and one miraculous journey.

Even though by all tokens, this presents as a young children's story, I heartily recommend it for your middle school classroom library, your high school classroom library, and your home.

Brilliant, brilliant, book.

I'll say it again...


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