by Kate DiCamillo
Conditional Recommendation: An emotional tale of a self-centered china rabbit who learns to love despite experiencing a harsh world.
Awards: Zilveren Griffel (2007), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Intermediate Book (2008), Sunshine State Young Readers Award for Grades 3-5 (2007), Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award for Junior (2009), Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award (2009), Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction and Poetry (2006), The Magnolia Award (2010), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Nominee (2008), Hea Lasteraamat (2019)
This story surprised me. I was not suspecting such emotion from a premise so similar to Toy Story. I was unprepared for the skill of the author to draw me in and make me feel and cry for a rabbit who cannot talk, cannot move, cannot do anything but allow events and people to happen to him. Edward Tulane experiences the highs of love and contentment and the lows of despair and loneliness. He begins as a cold-hearted, arrogant soul who is deeply changed by his harrowing experiences and the love of others. The story has a melancholy mood and yet each chapter is sprinkled with love and hope. I believe there are deep treasures and truths to be mined from this unassuming book—much more than I picked up after my first read.
Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who treated him with the utmost care and adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost.
Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the top of a garbage heap to the fireside of a hobos camp, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. And along the way, we are shown a true miracle: even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.
In short: to love is to be vulnerable especially in a harsh world, and learning to love—and be vulnerable—is a process.
I love the threads of hope weaved throughout the story. Edward frequently feels bad feelings and sometimes for years, but something happens or someone comes along to give him hope again and again, and never in a way he expects or enjoys at first.
Edward has been utterly broken, heart and body, and he refuses to be willing to love or be loved again. After conversing with a very old doll, Edward begins to repeat the phrase, “Someone will come.” It brings him hope. This is a hope Christians should be very familiar with—the blessed assurance, the “looking forward” to Jesus Christ one day coming for us or welcoming us home with Him. Edward’s hope does not disappoint and though he has been called many different names and worn many different outfits, his original owner, the one who first loved him, recognizes him and calls him by name. And he is home. It is so beautiful and aligns so well with what the Bible says about hope, our future home, and our First Love.
Each new owner/s that takes Edward in is unique and quickly enters your heart…even to the point of tears.
It’s fascinating in a way that’s hard to explain. It’s thoughtful which, I suppose, fits because all Edward can do is think as things happen to him. The pacing is slow and steady—good for an evening read.
So, so satisfying—refer to the Goodness and Truth section above. I do love a happy, hopeful ending!
The mood of melancholy and some of the harshness of the world such as children living in poverty and a homeless man’s life with his dog companion may be too emotionally heavy for younger or sensitive readers. Also, a 4-year-old girl dies and beyond the mention of her coughing up blood, the scene is kept to mild descriptions.
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