July 05, 2010

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamarillo

genre: YA Fantasy (talking animals)
propriate for: grades 2-adult
rating: ****

I have wanted to read this book since it came out a couple of years ago but have never gotten around to it. I loved Kate's The Tale of Desperaux which I had read aloud to my students in Third Grade. This would was a great story and used a lot of great writing techniques that I point out to writers in my class even now (the best book for voice I have found). So when I found it at the library and it was the end of the year I decided for it to be one of the choices for our read aloud in 2nd grade. Needless to say after reading the flap and flipping through the chapter titles once the kids heard the words Hobo camp they were determined that was the one they wanted to read.

One thing that drew me to this story was the cover and beautiful illustrations. This book reminded me of books I had read when I was growing up. There were a few minor things I didn't like but over all I definitely would read this again to my students.

What I liked:
  • The beautiful illustrations.
  • That there was a moral to the story about love and how important it is.
  • How Kate showed the passage of time and movement from one owner to the next. Also it didn't just cover a couple of days or a year but many years. Different time periods were learned about in a round about way while I was reading. Several times I stopped to answer some questions about why certain things were happening or to explain a little about what was going on. This would be good to use for a mentor text in writing.
  • That it dealt with some tough issues in a good way such as homelessness, poverty, and death. I almost cried at the end and the students where like what is wrong Miss Dudley? They couldn't believe I had such emotions for a book. Any book that draws such emotion from me is a great book since it is hard to get me to cry.
Some things I didn't like or that may cause problems for readers:
  • While the illustrations were beautiful sometimes they were placed after the part they represented in the story. I stopped and showed the picture on the next page several times.
  • The tough issues that I liked may be too difficult for some students. My students had no problems but other students may in particular be upset over the death of the little girl from tuberculosos. I believe though that my students have experienced death and should be exposed to how people react and deal with death (I teach in a low income area).
  • The note at the end I didn't get at first when I read it. I had to read it a second time then I got it (a good teaching technique but the students may have difficulty getting the circular ending).

The students LOVED this book. They always reminded me of read aloud time and were silent as mice when I read it, even my most difficult students (which is a sure sign that they like it). I loved it just as much as they did and plan to add this to my student library.

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