A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a melancholy little story in which there is cruelty and misery, including a little girl who dies of consumption. Most readers, child and adult, will cry while reading it; at the most extreme, some very sensitive kids might find it too disturbing.
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What's the story?
Edward Tulane is a three-foot tall toy rabbit, beautifully made, with a wardrobe of exquisite clothes. Like any toy, he cannot move or talk, but he can think. And despite being loved by a little girl, Abilene, he doesn't love anyone but himself.
Abilene's mysterious grandmother tells them a story of a princess who cannot love, and she whispers to Edward, "You disappoint me." Soon after, while on a cruise ship, Edward is thrown overboard by some mean boys, thus beginning an odyssey that carries him through many years to different owners, through humiliation and damage and pain, but enables him gradually to open his heart to others.
Is it any good?
This lovely, lyrical, almost Dickensian tale is certainly a classic in the making. How is it that, at a time when so many authors don't seem to be able to get their readers emotionally involved with their human characters, Kate DiCamillo can have her readers breathless and weeping over a toy rabbit that can neither move nor talk? This is the author's secret, and the key to why this book should last long after others have faded away.
Yes, it is at times mawkish and overwrought: The stunning cruelty of the world to a little boy named Bryce, for instance, left unresolved by the author, borders on being too much. But by that time, even jaded readers won't mind -- they'll be too swept up in the rich and powerful story, enhanced by the gorgeous drawings and paintings by Ibatoulline. The whole volume, in fact, is a treat, printed in perfectly sized type with plenty of white space on creamy paper -- a beautiful edition well worth the slightly higher hardcover price. Don't miss sharing this near-perfect bedtime book with your middle-graders, and don't be surprised if you find your older kids listening in at the doorway.
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