"The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" by Kate DiCamillo is a beautiful book about love. Edward, the main character - a china bunny, goes on an incredible world-crossing journey when he is separated from his owner. Throughout his many struggles, he finds out what it means to truly love somebody. This novel takes the gist of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous quote: "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" and gives Edward the opportunity to decide for himself whether loving others is truly worth the pain.
This novel left an ache in my soul. I kept wanting happier things to happen to Edward, rather, he spent much of the novel grappling with a deep sadness. "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" makes you reflect on your own life and those you love. Even if you’ve experienced severe loss and sadness, would you trade those feelings to have never loved at all? Although this book digs deep into feelings of loss and sadness, it is still a worthwhile read, and one that will stick with me for a very long time.
Recommended Age Group?
The publisher’s recommended age group is 7-10. I would push that age group up – 10-13 (grades 5-8). The reading level may be a bit easy for grade 8, but the themes and morals are perfect for such an age.
This novel addresses a variety of interesting characters: a hobo, a sickly child, an abusive father, a seemingly callous grandmother, the list goes on. Some of these characters and the plights they deal with may be too much for a younger child to understand. DiCamillo deals with some heavy themes: death, abuse, homelessness, and hopelessness. Children in grades 2-4 just might not be ready to read about these sad themes.
What I found most challenging when reading this novel was the fact that I couldn’t trust the plot to give Edward any happiness. As soon as I felt just a little bit comfortable with his situation, DiCamillo would rip that comfort from me and make me start all over. However, before I dissuade you from reading this novel, I have to make sure you know that it isn’t all sad. There is hope and happiness embedded within these pages.
This book is classroom approved and best suited for grades 5-8. Keep in mind that some of the characters and plot details could potentially ignite deep emotions in some of your students, (in particular, the abusive father and sickly child characters). If your students have suffered from abuse or sibling death, this might be a difficult book for them.
As always, it’s best to read the book yourself first to determine whether it’s a good fit for your class/children.
This book has a permanent spot on my bookshelf, and it will patiently wait for the day when my own children will be ready to read such a beautifully haunting story.