Have you ever met someone whose storytelling ability is even more wonderful than the stories themselves? I haven’t met Kate DiCamillo face to face, but when I’m reading her work, I’m astounded by the tapestry of her words. Simply by describing a setting, this master storyteller can spin my mind into a place rich with tales. Before she guides me into the plot, she captures my imagination, and I’m suddenly dreaming of different stories, legends, fictions she hasn’t written. Even during moments when the action stalls, her very language inspires fascination.
After finishing Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, my sons and I have been listening to the audio version of The Magician’s Elephant as we drive to and from school and run errands. With DiCamillo’s skillfully woven words filling the minivan, those trips are transformed from mundane to mesmerizing. Even in that atmosphere of mystery, the boys and I miss Edward Tulane.
I remembering enjoying DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie, being drawn (unwillingly) into the darkness of The Tale of Despereaux, and being impressed by The Tiger Rising, but I jumped into The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane with my whole heart.
Each night, two boys, ages 5 and 10, and their thirty-something mother looked forward to reading another chapter about . . . a china rabbit! I would sit on the toy chest beside the bunk bed and read aloud. “Another chapter, please!” they’d say when one ended. And I, wanting just as much as they to know what would happen, would oblige!
Edward is a narcissist, but on his unwanted adventure, he grows ever so much uglier and dirtier . . . and ever so much more lovable. He learns what it means to love others! As Kate DiCamillo says of Edward Tulane, “Through a china rabbit, we see what it means to be human.”
Don’t suspect, as I did, that it is a retelling of sorts of The Velveteen Rabbit. There is no fairy who turns Edward into a real bunny. Rather, as you read, the story itself becomes real because it holds so much truth. (If you are like me, you might need some tissues.) Best of all, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is told in the magical language with which God has gifted Kate DiCamillo, and in so doing, has gifted all of us who read her.