Diane Prather: 'Miraculous Journey' an engaging book with message

I'm often asked about my favorite books and authors. Kate DiCamillo, who writes for young adult and elementary readers, ranks way up there on my list of favorite children's authors.

I'm not the only one who admires DiCamillo's imaginative and lively style of writing either. She has received the Newbery Award for "The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread" (2004) and a Newbery Honor for "Because of Winn-Dixie" (2001).

Both of these books are intended for young adults, but DiCamillo writes for elementary readers, too. This week's featured book, "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane," is a chapter book that can be found in the children's room at the library. The illustrations were done by Bagram Ibatoulline.

Edward Tulane, a blue-eyed toy rabbit, believes himself to be an "exceptional specimen." And, indeed, his size alone is impressive. Edward is 3 feet tall, from the tip of his ears to the tip of his feet.

Edward's tail and ears are made of real rabbit fur, but his arms, legs, paws, head, torso and nose are china. His jointed arms and legs are held together by wires, making Edward movable. In addition, his ears and whiskers bend.

And then there's Edward's grand wardrobe. It includes silk suits, pajamas, real leather shoes and hats with holes for his ears. Edward even has a little gold watch that he carries in a small pocket in his pants.

Pellegrina had Edward made for her granddaughter's seventh birthday. She had the wardrobe made, too. That's how Edward came to live in the house on Egypt Street with Abilene, Father, Mother and Pellegrina. Now Abilene is 10 years old.

Edward sits at the table with the family. He has his own little bed. Each morning, Abilene dresses Edward, winds his watch and puts him on a chair where he can look out the window while she's at school.

Occasionally, Edward catches his reflection in the window glass and marvels at his own elegance. If Edward could talk, he certainly would have a lot to say about himself.

On Abilene's eleventh birthday, Father announces that the family, including Edward, is going to sail to England on the Queen Mary.

That night, Pellegrina stares into Edward's eyes as she tells him and Abilene a story. It's about a beautiful princess who "loved no one and cared nothing for love, even though there were many who loved her." It foreshadows the book's theme.

Soon, the family is on their way to England. Passengers begin to notice Edward, especially two boys, Martin and Amos.

They grab Edward, undress him and begin tossing him back and forth. It's mortifying to Edward, but, even worse, he gets tossed overboard.

Edward sinks deep into the ocean and finally comes to rest on the ocean floor. It's the beginning of a miraculous journey.

This is an enchanting book with a message. It's published by Candlewick Press (2006) and costs $18.99 in hardcover.

ISBN 076362589-2

Copyright Diane Prather, 2007. All rights reserved.

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