Reading guide for The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, Bagram Ibatoulline

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The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

By Kate DiCamillo, Bagram Ibatoulline

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2006,
    228 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2008,
    208 pages.

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

"ONCE, IN A HOUSE ON EGYPT STREET, there lived a rabbit who was made almost entirely of china." So begins The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. That elegantly attired rabbit was a seventh birthday present to Abilene Tulane from her grandmother, Pellegrina. Every morning, Abilene, who is now ten, dresses Edward in one of his extraordinary handmade silk suits and hats and winds his gold pocket watch. She sits him at the dinner table each evening, and she tucks him into his own bed each night. 

"I love you, Edward," she tells him before going to sleep.

Edward never says anything in response, even though Abilene half expects him to, since of course he cannot speak. Nor does he particularly feel anything in response, since most of his thoughts and feelings center on himself. He never ceases to be amazed at his own fineness, considering himself to be "an exceptional specimen"; he is not much interested in what people have to say, including the devoted Abilene.

On Abilene's eleventh birthday, her parents tell her the family will soon sail to London on the Queen Mary. That night Pellegrina tells Abilene and Edward a bedtime story about the terrible fate of a princess who loved no one. Edward, who prefers not to think unpleasant thoughts, is unmoved.

On the deck of the ocean liner, Edward receives admiring attention from many of the other passengers. However, two young brothers grab Edward off his deck chair, strip him of his clothing, and begin to play catch with him. When Abilene tries desperately to stop them, Edward goes overboard, into the ocean.

So commences Edward Tulane's odyssey, from the bottom of the sea to rescue by a kind fisherman, and through a succession of caretakers. Though yearning for his old life on Egypt Street, Edward begins to experience life, love, and loss.

This guide will help you bring The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to your class in many different ways. There are lots of ideas and something for every classroom. Enjoy!

Once, oh marvelous once, there was a rabbit who found his way home.


Discussion Points

Before Reading:
Examine the cover of the book with your students and discuss it. Who is the author?
Has she written any other books with which you are familiar? What are they about?
Ask the questions below before you begin reading the book, and write down or make a chart of the children's predictions. Ask the same questions again when you finish the book, and compare the children's responses with those on the list or chart.

  1. What do you think this book will be about?
  2. Who is Edward Tulane?
  3. What kind of journey could he be undertaking?
  4. What might miraculous mean?
  5. What do you think is happening on the cover?

While Reading:

  1. How does Abilene feel about Edward?
    The day the maid misplaces Edward, Abilene runs from room to room, calling for him. Discuss why Abilene loves him so much.  What emotion does Edward feel in return and why?
    What kind of person is Abilene Tulane?
    The story leaves Abilene on the deck of the Queen Mary, shouting to Edward, "Come back," as he tumbles into the ocean. Discuss what you think happens to Abilene that day.
  2. How and why do all adults (except Abilene's sharp-eyed grandmother, Pellegrina) condescend, or talk down, to Edward? 
    What does it mean to have a condescending manner?
    Have you ever experienced an adult or a person older than you who condescended to you?
    How can you tell? Why do you think that person acted that way?
    How did you handle it?
  3. Why does Pellegrina tell the story about a princess who loves no one and is turned into a warthog by a witch to Abilene and Edward?
    Why is Abilene indignant at the end of the story?
    What does Pellegrina mean when she says on page 34, "How can a story end happily if there is no love?"
    What is Edward's reaction to the story?
    Why does Pellegrina say to Edward, "You disappoint me"?
    What does she expect of him?
  4. Talking of his wife, Nellie, Lawrence says, "She's had her sadness, but she's an all-right girl" (page 61).
    Why is Nellie sad?
    Why does she confide in Edward, and how do they help each other?
  5. When the old woman hangs Edward on a pole to scare away the crows in her garden, Edward thinks, "I am done with caring." He feels mocked by the stars, which seem to say, "You are down there alone." On page 113, he tells the stars, "I have been loved," and they reply, "What difference does that make when you are all alone now?"
    Does it make a difference?
    Why does it matter to Edward that he has been loved?
    Is there a difference between the love Edward receives from Abilene at the beginning of the book and the love he receives from Sarah Ruth?
    How are his feelings toward Sarah Ruth different from anything he's experienced before?
  6. What are some of the life lessons Edward learns on his journey, through good times and bad?
    What life lessons have you acquired in your life that you would like to pass on to someone else?


Essays

  1. Edward is repeatedly lost by those who love him. Have you ever lost something you treasured? How did you deal with it? Write an essay about what happened to it, and to you as a consequence, and draw or paint a picture of it.
  2. This book is Edward's story, but all of the people who take him in have their own stories, too. Write their memoirs or their autobiographies, told from their point of view.
    What might happen to their characters after Edward leaves? How does Edward change their lives?
  3. How do you think Lawrence and Nellie find out that Edward is gone, and how might they react? Write a new chapter describing what you think might happen between Lolly and her parents after Edward disappears.
  4. See how the old doll helps Edward change his attitude and open his heart again.  She tells him, "If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless" (page 189). What does she mean? Have you ever encountered someone who changed the way you thought or looked at the world? Write about your experience with this person.
  5. What are some of the events and experiences that have shaped your life and changed you, for better or for worse? Write about one of your defining moments and how it shaped or affected you.

     

This is just part of the teacher's guide materials Candlewick Press provide for this book. Click here to download the PDF or visit Candlewick.com.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Candlewick Press. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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