This adventure book by Kate DiCamillo is published by Candlewick Press, an imprint of Walker Books and is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Edward Tulane, an elegant bunny made mostly of china, believes himself to be a fine specimen. Despite the fact that his owner, a little girl named Abilene, loves him desperately, he cares for no one but himself. Only after Edward is thrown from a ship into the ocean — then rediscovered by a series of different owners — does he understand the real meaning of love. His miraculous journey comes full circle when Abilene's daughter purchases him at a toy shop.
In one adventure, a woman hangs up Edward to scare away crows. The illustration is reminiscent of a crucifixion, as Edward is tied and nailed to a cross-shaped piece of wood and feels "mocked" by the birds that circle him. When a boy named Bryce uses Edward as a dancing puppet, a bystander becomes upset and says it's a sin to dance. Though not mentioned in an overtly Christian way, the themes of love, hope and self-sacrifice are built into this story.
Most of the people who own Edward throughout the story name him and care deeply for him. Some even make clothes for him and reserve a special place for him in their daily activities. Several characters, including a diner owner and a toy repairman, behave cruelly to a child (Bryce) while Edward's in his possession. Sarah Ruth, a terminally ill 4-year-old, has a father who drinks a lot and is physically abusive. Pellegrina, the grandmother of Edward's first owner, tells Edward she's disappointed in his failure to love. Her words haunt him and drive his subsequent transformation.
Other Belief Systems
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Why does Pellegrina tell Edward that he disappointed her?
- How does thinking about her words throughout his journey change Edward?
- When Lolly throws Edward in the trash, all he can think about is how he could get revenge on her.
Is seeking revenge ever a good idea?
What does the Bible say about revenge? (See Romans 12:19.)
- In the beginning of the story, Edward thinks mostly of himself. In the end, he learns to care about others.
How does caring about, helping and loving others make our lives better?
- Bryce's motives in getting Edward for his sister are good, but he does take Edward without asking.
Was that stealing?
- What could he have done instead?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.