Edward Tulane is not your average rabbit, nor is he your average child’s toy. Edward Tulane is a china rabbit with real rabbit fur ears and tail. He wears a fancy suit and a pocket watch and he is loved by 10-year-old Abilene. He is very pleased with himself. Abilene’s grandmother is less pleased, as she feels that he should love Abilene as much as she loves him. When Edward is taken on a sea voyage, Abilene becomes involved in a tussle over the rabbit with some boys, which results in Edward Tulane being flung overboard and sinking to the bottom of the sea. Thus begins his journey through life in various settings and with various owners. Throughout his journeys, Edward has no choice but to wait in the hopes that Abilene or some other kind soul will come for him and treat him with care and kindness. In the process, he learns to open his heart and feel genuine love for his caregivers.
Like many stories that have come before, this story centers on the private life of a child’s plaything. Unlike some of these stories, Edward Tulane does not come to life when the children are away. Rather he is always feeling, thinking, seeing, and hearing, though without being able to speak or move on his own. This affects the timeline of his journey, as he waits for days, months, or seasons at a time for someone to discover him and take him with them. The story is punctuated throughout by Edward’s growth as a character as he learns to open his heart to others, and by his deep feeling of loss as he is separated from his various owners without getting to say goodbye. Prepare to be moved, perhaps even to tears.
DiCamillo’s beautiful writing may at times be challenging for young readers, but in a way that is inviting rather than intimidating. The short chapters are accompanied by beautiful, full-color plates and sepia-toned illustrations by artist Bagram Ibatoulline. This along with the many cliffhanger chapter endings and near constant movement from setting to setting will help draw readers in and keep them deeply engaged.