A hardback edition of one of my all-time favorite books: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
This week the discussion thread in my Common Core online group (on the NEA GPS Network) is Read Alouds. A colleague and member of the group, Martha Cervantes, mentioned that her favorite read aloud is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It inspired me to write this post since Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite children’s authors. Join our conversation and let us know your thoughts on the book or tell us about your favorite read aloud. Click HERE.
Have you ever cried in front of your students? I have, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I can guarantee that you will during a read aloud of the last paragraph of Kate DiCamillo’s beautiful book The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. This elegant and charming book is a good read for upper-elementary students, grade 3 and up, due to the sophisticated vocabulary and mature issues (such as death and child abuse).
Here are some ways you can use this book in your classroom:
Author’s Voice: Edward Tulane, a rabbit made of china, doesn’t talk. But he THINKS, and the people around him don’t know that he thinks. Only the passive narrator knows what’s going on in Edward’s head. This in and of itself is an interesting teachable moment about 1st versus 3rd person. As an author, DiCamillo has a sly ability to craft the mood and imagery of a time and place like no other. We don’t know exactly where and when it takes place, but you can imagine a time when steam liners crossed oceans, hobos jumped trains, and child welfare agencies didn’t exist. Compare this book to the southern twang and charm of her other best seller, Because of Winn Dixie, and you’re halfway to a fascinating author study.
Vocabulary: Get out your sticky-note flags: Within the first two pages, you will encounter words like jaunty, ennui, exceptional, unsavory, and commissioned. What exquisite words to play with! In order for students to fully enjoy this book as a read aloud, I suggest previewing the vocabulary on a chart beforehand, then simply referencing the chart while you read. You can certainly do more with the vocabulary words, but this is a good starting point. Be sure to put students’ favorite words on your vocabulary lists or incorporate them into your literacy centers.
Inferring: As mentioned above, the author doesn’t mention a specific time or place to the book, and the settings change several times throughout. There are many opportunities for students to read between the lines, and to figure out what Edward, the title character is going through. Which leads me to…
Character Study: The title alludes to a journey, and Edward not only goes on a physical journey, but an emotional and spiritual one as well. As a character, we see his faults, and how they evolve as he survives mishap after mishap. He has to learn to love and deal with loss of love, and at one point becomes so despondent that he wants to give up. In the satisfying ending, he comes full-circle with his emotions.
I have listed below some additional resources for this book. Thank you Martha for mentioning it! It genuinely is a brilliant book.
Here are some additional resources for the book:
Common Core Connections:
Read Chapter 12-78 (pages 87-129) of Edward Tulane and discuss traits that describe Edward and other characters in this section of the text. The class might discuss how Edward’s character has changed and discuss students’ reactions to his newly acquired traits.
Some possible text-dependent questions for discussion include:
- How is Edward changing? How does the author show us his character development?
- How does the author want us to feel about Edward at different points in the book?
- How does she elicit these feelings from us?
- In your opinion, has Edward’s journey been a positive or negative experience for him? What in the text makes you think that?