I am excited to share my review of a recent read aloud that I read to my kids: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.
I read this out loud to my kids over the past several weeks. It was my first time reading it which I must admit was a bit nerve wracking only because I didn’t know what to expect. Would it be too scary/intense/surprising for my kids? Overall, no it wasn’t too intense. But I did skip over a few parts because my kids are still quite young. It’s definitely a more serious book than we have read aloud so far. But DiCamillo’s fantastic storytelling is on display at it’s best here.
- First, can I just rave about Kate DiCamillo’s incredible ability to tell a story? Her stories always surprise me and always twist in new directions I would never think to go. They tackle hard issues and embrace silly moments. But they always lead us back home.
According to Goodreads, ““Someone will come for you, but first you must open your heart. . . .”
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 hoboes’ camp, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. And along the way, we are shown a true miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.”
Edward is a surprising protagonist that you grow to love rather than enjoy from the beginning. Frankly, he is rather stuck up and selfish at the start of the story. He doesn’t love anyone or even care about the little girl who cares for him so deeply. He finds humans annoying and boring. And then the adventure begins. As he meets new people and comes to understand what it means to love and to miss someone, suddenly I understood why Edward is so endearing. It’s because he changes. He becomes attached to others. He realizes he made mistakes and tries to be better next time. He loves and looses love. He almost gives up but not quite. And those are great lessons for kids.
The action in this story is nearly constant as Edward moves from owner to owner. There are a lot of people who have a chance to love and take care of Edward. It is intriguing to see how his relationship with all these people changes as time passes. He begins with Abilene who loves him fiercely. Then he ends up overboard at the bottom of an ocean, lives with a fisherman and his wife, spends time in the dump, becomes an icon for hobos across the country, is tenderly loved by a sick girl and her brother, is broken and finally reunited with love. I don’t think this action is too fast or confusing for kids. Although some of it is a bit intense for younger audiences. There are kind people and mean people in the world and this book shows the varying sides of human nature quite well through the characters and plot twists.
Why this novel is a good option to read aloud:
- Small chapters so it’s very easy to read 1-3 at bedtime
- Pictures at the start of every chapter and inside many of them
- Overall, a straightforward story line. This is simply the story of a rabbit who gets lost and discovers love as he finds his way home.
- A great hero’s journey for Edward who begins as a very proud, rude rabbit but gradually learns how to love and hope.
- Contrasting relationships with Edward. It’s fun to see and discuss how he makes Abilene happy and then Susanna and then Bull and Sarah Ruth/Bryce. Different relationships but love is found in all of them.
Things to know before you read aloud:
- Again, there are some intense moments, and I read ahead a bit to know where to skip. For example Bryce and Sarah Ruth’s father is an alcoholic and hits Bryce but I skipped that in my reading. Also intense when Edward’s face is smashed in the diner. I’d say, don’t be afraid to skip over things if you’re unsure but also know that the story is quite lovely and my older child especially loved hearing about Edward’s adventures.
- Deeper themes like… what is love? how do you love? overcoming pride and selfishness. It’s not just a silly or fun story. There are a lot of deeper meanings here which makes it work for younger audiences who just want to hear about Edward and older audiences that could discuss these themes in more depth.
Overall, a lovely story that I’m glad to have read. On to our next read aloud adventure!
What are some of your favorite childhood read alouds?
Any Kate DiCamillo fans out there?