The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane: Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Robin Small

Robin has a BA/MAT in English Ed, and teaches 6th grade English and Writing Lab.

Love changes everything, even for a porcelain toy rabbit in ''The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane'' by Kate DiCamillo. Edward learns that real happiness comes from looking beyond his own reflection, listening to other people's stories, and opening his heart to friendship.


On her seventh birthday, Abilene Tulane receives a china rabbit, three feet tall, with an extensive wardrobe of well-made clothes, shoes and hats, and a pocket watch. She names him Edward. In the Tulane household he is talked to, cared for, and loved. Other than an unfortunate incident involving a dog and an overly industrious maid vacuuming up his pocket watch, his life is smooth and peaceful.

The adults treat Edward well, too, although only Abilene's grandmother Pellegrina looks him in the eye as an equal. It turns out, Pellegrina commissioned Edward's construction. While Edward is brought to the table and treated like part of the family, he is largely uninterested in what the Tulanes have to say. Nothing captivates him quite as much as his own reflection in the window on winter afternoons, while he waits for Abilene to come home from school.

Pellegrina's Story

Pellegrina looks Edward in the eye, and she sees the shallowness of his affection for Abilene, which is centered entirely on her adoration of him. She tells a bedtime story to Abilene about a princess, so beautiful that she 'shone as bright as the stars on a moonless night.' Pellegrina goes on to explain that her beauty was meaningless, because she 'loved no one and cared nothing for love, even though there were many who loved her' (29). It becomes clear, when Pellegrina looks meaningfully at Edward, that she is drawing a parallel here. The story ends with the princess declaring, 'I love no one,' and the witch turning her into a warthog (33). The king's men kill the warthog, and the story is over. Abilene objects, since this is not a happy ending. ''Ah, and so.' Pellegrina nodded. She was quiet for a moment. 'But answer me this: how can a story end happily if there is no love?'' (34).

Edward and the Fisherman

The Tulane family undertakes a voyage to England on a ship, and some boys on board tease Abilene about Edward. Their game of keep away ends with Edward overboard, and he spends time on the ocean floor. This is not wasted time, however, because, 'Edward, for lack of anything better to do, began to think' (53). He thought about the stars.'What made them shine so brightly, he wondered, and were they still shining somewhere even though he could not see them? Never in my life, he thought, have I been farther away from the stars than I am now'(54). After 297 days, a storm stirs up the water, and Edward is caught in a fishing net and hauled out.

The fisherman's wife names him Susanna, and the proud Edward Tulane is able to ignore the indignity of being dressed as a girl, and enjoy the attention of the Lawrence and Nellie. When they tell stories, he finds that he is interested, and he listens. He is not the same Edward. His time with them comes to an abrupt end when their daughter throws him out with the trash. Edward lies in a garbage heap, thinking of Nellie, Lawrence, and Abilene, and he starts to understand loss.

Edward and the Stars

While he lies there in the darkness, he thinks again of the stars. After some time, Edward is dragged out of the dump by a dog, and he becomes the traveling companion of a hobo named Bull. Renamed Malone, Edward spends years on the rails and on the road with Bull and the dog, Lucy. 'During the night, while Bull and Lucy slept, Edward with his ever-open eyes, stared up at the constellations. He said their names, and then he said the names of the people who loved him… Abilene, Nellie, Lawrence, Bull, Lucy, Abilene. See? Edward told Pellegrina. I am not like the princess. I know about love' (96). This peaceful time ends when Edward is tossed from a train and loses Bull and Lucy as well.

What made them shine so brightly? he wondered.
Starry Sky

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