This book is quite well known, seeing as it had won the 2006 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award in the Fiction category. It is the story of Edward Tulane, a china rabbit given to Abilene, a ten-year-old girl by her grandmother.
Seeing as Edward was often treated like royalty by his owner, he had become vain and lives a life like a royalty. Edward wasn’t just pleased with himself, in fact, he viewed himself as an exquisite specimen. Of course, Edward’s internal monologue is not known to Abilene; in fact his portrayal in the book is one of that a normal girl’s plaything – however, Abilene’s grandmother, Pellegrina seems to have a hidden insight of Edward’s gift – as in she knew that Edward isn’t just a simple china doll.
Edward’s life took a turn when the family went for a vacation on board the RMS Queen Mary. Martin, a small boy about the same age as Abilene, paid special interest on Edward, to an extent on grabbing him from Abilene and stripping Edward naked, sans his hat. In the heat of the moment, Edward found himself suddenly tossed overboard into the ocean.
One day, a raging storm frees Edward from the seabed, and was fished out of the ocean by a fisherman. The fisherman then gifted Edward to his wife, Nellie, who began caring for Edward – however, she makes him wear dresses and gives him a feminine name, Susanna. Nellie’s daughter who was visiting however, felt an instant dislike for him and threw him into the trash bin and hauled him out without Nellie’s and Lawrence’s knowledge. For the first time, Edward felt the pang of lost in his heart.
Once again, Edward was left in the dumpsite for quite some time, before he was found by Bull and together with Lucy, his pet dog, they scoured the dumpster for a living. He renamed Edward, this time with the name of Malone, and together, they traveled across the land on foot, or empty freight cars. It was with Bull and Lucy that Edward stayed the longest – he was with them for almost seven years. Yet during an inspection and the discovery of the three of them hiding in the freight car, Edward was flung out of the car, and was then discovered by an old woman, who used him as a makeshift scarecrow.
Bryce, a small boy who worked for the old woman, rescued Edward and presented Edward to his four-year-old sister who suffered from tuberculosis. However, his stay as Jangles for Sarah Ruth and Bryce was short-lived as well as Sarah Ruth succumbed to her illness. Bryce took Edward to Memphis, where one night, as a show of anger towards Bryce for having a meal without paying, the cook at a diner smashed Edward’s head against the side counter.
In order to get him fixed, Bryce agreed to surrender him to the doll mender, Lucius Clarke. And there he had spent his life long after. An old doll that was left beside him reminded him gently, to open his heart. “Someone will come,” she said and though he struggled against her words, he felt his heart opening. He waited, even with the change of seasons for someone to come for him. And someone did.
A small girl, by the name of Maggie, came in to the shop with her mother and headed straight to his shelf, gently picking him up and cradling him, showing him to her mother.
“The woman came and stood over Maggie. She looked down at Edward. The rabbit felt dizzy. He wondered, for a minute, if his head had cracked open again, if he was dreaming.
“Look, Mama,” said Maggie, “look at him.”
“I see him,” said the woman.
She dropped the umbrella. She put her hand on the locket that hung around her neck. And Edward saw then that it was not a locket at all. It was a watch, a pocket watch.
It was his watch.
“Edward?” said Abilene.
Yes, said Edward.
“Edward,” she said again, certain this time.
Yes, said Edward, yes, yes, yes.
Of course, just as every children’s storybook, there is always a clear theme and moral values present. The book teaches us about kindness and compassion, of loss and recovery and of course, of love. The main theme can be easily seen within this quote from the book:
“If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless.”
Edward’s journey not only made him realize the errors of his way, but also taught him the valuable lesson of love. Twice he came across Pellegrina during his journey; once when he was in Memphis as Jangles, the dancing rabbit and the second time in the form of the old doll on the shelf.
His journey took him far from the norms of the life that he was so used to; selfish and vain, with his every whims catered to by Abilene. Of course, he never did ask for anything; Abilene treated him such, however the book shows how ungrateful Edward was, with the whole journey from his fall overboard the RMS Queen Mary until meeting Abilene again years later being some sort of an educational journey – a journey for self discovery.
I initially purchased this book after hearing much hype about it from a friend who regularly watched Korean dramas; this book was quoted extensively by the main character of a hugely popular 2014 Korean drama. However, after reading through the entire book three times, I have to admit, this book isn’t necessarily suited just for children alone; it is well written with an enjoyable pace so adults would find this book a good read too.
Overall, the book’s entire package – cover, fonts, plot and pace is certainly appealing to many, especially with the flow of the story being one that moves on smoothly. I would recommend this book to anyone from any walks of life; there certainly is something for everyone to obtain from this book.