Written By: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated By: Bagram Ibatoulline
Have you ever just fallen in love with a book so much that your whole being hurts? I’m talking heart-twisting, hope-filling love? That was how I felt reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate DiCamillo, the creator of this masterpiece, takes a literary look at a treasured token of childhood (ala The Velveteen Rabbit): a china rabbit named Edward Tulane who knows he’s, well, something to be treasured. Even though readers may start out gasping at Edward’s callous, haughty demeanor, DiCamillo works her magic as we accompany Edward on his unwanted journey and leaves us desperately hoping that all will be well by the end. -Sheila, Zoobean Curator
Take time to read the front and back flaps before beginning the story. This text will provide your child with a summary of this incredibly heart-warming story about Edward, the china rabbit, as well as interesting information about the author and illustrator that brought the story to life. For example, the author’s description on the back flap informs the reader that the story was inspired by a dream that she had after receiving an elegantly dressed toy rabbit for Christmas one year. This information makes the story all the more interesting to read and keeps the author in mind when your child is reading. Encourage your child to flip through the illustrations as you ask questions like:
What do you notice on the front cover?
What do you think the story will be about?
What do you predict will happen?
What do you think the rabbit’s personality will be like? Why?
Activate Prior Knowledge
Ask your child if s/he knows what personification means. Based on the cover and front flap of the book, ask your child how Edward exhibits characteristics of personification. If your child does not know what it means, explain that personification is when an inanimate object has characteristics that a person has, such as thoughts, emotions, movement, etc. Have your child keep this in mind as s/he reads.
As You Read
Encourage your child to stop when s/he gets to an unfamiliar word. See if s/he can discover its meaning by using context clues and the words surrounding it. Be sure to keep a “Vocabulary Journal” nearby when reading so that your child can write down new words that s/he looks up later or those s/he looks up in the dictionary while reading. Examples of new words in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane include:
When reading the story in more than one sitting, either as a read aloud or independently, be sure your child recaps what happened in past readings. This will help your child put subsequent events into context. Also be sure to make connections to your child’s life by asking, “ Do parts of this story remind you of something in your life or something from another book that you have read?” For example, when Edward first gets thrown overboard and is separated from Abilene, you can ask your child questions like:
Can you think of a time when you were lost and you didn’t know how to find your way?
How did you feel in that moment and what did you do to find your way back?
Imagine if you were like Edward and couldn’t move on your own. How do you think you would have felt?
Summarize and Interpret
To ensure comprehension, ask your child about what happened in the book as well as who/what were the characters and places. Ask your child the following questions to further explore understanding of the story.
What did you like (and dislike) about this story?
What was your favorite part of the story? Why?
What surprised you about the book?
How would you describe Edward in the beginning of the story? How would you describe him in the end? How did he change over the course of the book?
How did Edward’s feelings toward his owners change throughout the book?
What do you think Edward would tell himself if he could go back in time to the beginning of the story and meet his former self?
This heart-wrenching story of a rabbit who learns what it means to love is a great catalyst for conversation about love and lose. Ask your child, “Why do you think Edward finally had a change of heart? Do you think that Edward would have learned to love Abilene if he hadn’t gone on this journey? Why/why not?”
The story comes to an end when Edward is finally reunited with Abilene and her daughter in the doll shop. It is more than likely that your child will be very curious about what happens next. We certainly are! Discuss what a sequel is, if your child isn’t already familiar with the concept. Think about movie sequels, or book sequels (Knuffle Bunny series, Harry Potter, just to name a few) with which s/he is familiar. Then, discuss what the story for a sequel to Edward Tulane might be.
Things to consider include:
What is Abilene like now?
What is her daughter like?
How does Edward feel about being back home after all of this time?
Does he find himself on any other unexpected adventures?
Let your child’s imagination wander as s/he thinks up new experiences for Edward and his family. Then, take a big piece of butcher paper or several pieces of smaller paper, and write out the key parts of a story plot: Introduction, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. Under each of these, not what would happen in your own sequel to the story. First, try telling the story to one another. Then, if you’re feeling inspired, try writing an actual sequel, or a deeper outline, for the next chapters in Edward Tulane’s journey!
Use A Bookmark While Reading
Your child may find it helpful to use a bookmark as a guide when reading to keep his/her place. Simply place the bookmark under the line that your child is reading and move it down once they are finished with that line.
Create a Vocabulary Journal
A great way to help build your child’s vocabulary is to make a vocabulary journal that your child uses when reading. Whenever your child comes across a new word, have him/her write it down along with its definition once they discover what it means. Decorate your dictionary and keep it with you each time you read a new story.