Sunday, May 16, 2010

A rabbit, a mouse, and some opinions

I realized that I have been completely delinquent in my book reviews. Since the time I posted my last review, I've read 3 more books.

Two of those books, I'm going to talk about at once.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Tale of Desperaux, by Kate DiCamillo.

I guess it's really not fair to lump this two books into one post, just because they are by the same author. But the real reason I'm doing it is because my feelings about both books are very similar.

After Bug and I read Because of Winn Dixie, we were very excited to read more of DiCamillo's books. She is an amazing writer. Her stories are captivating.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane follows the adventures of Edward, a large china rabbit. He is the toy of a little girl in a well-to-do family. And he thinks very highly of himself, so much so that he is annoyed with the attitudes of those around him, which he finds condescending. He wants nothing more than to be admired. It is obvious that Edward is about to be toppled from his high horse. After becoming lost in the sea, then in a dump, passing hands from a fisherman to a hobo to a backwoods boy, Edward slowly changes. He comes to understand that love comes from unexpected sources.

DiCamillo's metaphors are beautiful. This book made Bug's and my heart ache along with Edward's. The final chapter, I'll admit, made tears run down my cheeks.

The Tale of Desperaux, a story of a mouse, a rat, a servant girl, soup, and a princess named Pea, is intriguing. Desperaux, a small mouse with large ears and bigger dreams, falls in love with a human princess and because of this love, is banished from the mouse kingdom. When his beloved princess is captured by a vengeful rat and a desperate servant girl, Desperaux faces all his fears to rescue her.

The story plays with light and dark, both literally and metaphorically are well-done. Desperaux is the hero that you can get behind. He is good, and brave, and, well, like the author herself would say, maybe even slightly ridiculous.

While Bug and I enjoyed both stories, and I feel that they were excellent books for us to read together, I don't think that either lived up to Because of Winn Dixie. Both lacked the haunting writing that pulls you in. The honesty, the pain, the beauty, while approached, were not quite as gracefully obtained.

In all of her books, DiCamillo shows that she's not afraid of children. She's not scared to talk about big things, about fear, about death, about abandonment. She does so openly, but in ways that doesn't offend childish sensibilities. All of her books have given us the chance to talk about things we wouldn't have otherwise.

I do want to read more of DiCamillo's books, but after reading the synopsis of several, I think the stories may be too complex and the subject too mature for Bug at this moment. So, we are holding off, and moving towards other books are the moment.


  1. I agree with you! I was a teacher in my previous life before children and used to read Because of Winn Dixie to my students...a truly amazing story! Kate DiCamillo is so talented and I cried too at the end of ...Edward Tulane.

    I can't wait to read these stories with my children in a few years! Can't wait to hear what you two are reading next!

  2. Hi fellow SITS gal. I think we'll have to read these books now. We're all avid readers in our house, but we haven't read with of these yet. Thanks. Peace. :)

  3. We have much to look forward to for summer reading. Your suggestions are always excellent. When we've finished the Little House series we know where to go next! Thank you!! (You are still reading together. You can be sure that you are taking time for important things. Your a good mommy!!!!)

  4. Edward Tulane is my 9-year-old (almost10!) daughter's very favorite book. (I haven't read it yet, and I guess I better get on the ball!) We also read Despereaux, which we think is better than the movie version hands-down.