Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a
rabbit who was made almost entirely of china. He had china arms and
china legs, china paws and a china head, a china torso and a china
nose. His arms and legs were jointed and joined by wire so that his
china elbows and china knees could be bent, giving him much freedom of
His ears were made of real rabbit fur,
and beneath the fur, there were strong, bendable wires, which allowed
the ears to be arranged into poses that reflected the rabbit’s mood —
jaunty, tired, full of ennui. His tail, too, was made of real rabbit
fur and was fluffy and soft and well shaped.
rabbit’s name was Edward Tulane, and he was tall. He measured almost
three feet from the tip of his ears to the tip of his feet; his eyes
were painted a penetrating and intelligent blue.
In all, Edward Tulane felt himself to be an exceptional specimen. Only
his whiskers gave him pause. They were long and elegant (as they should
be), but they were of uncertain origin. Edward felt quite strongly that
they were not the whiskers of a rabbit. Whom the whiskers had belonged
to initially — what unsavory animal — was a question that Edward could
not bear to consider for too long. And so he did not. He preferred, as
a rule, not to think unpleasant thoughts.
Edward’s mistress was a ten-year-old, dark-haired girl named Abilene
Tulane, who thought almost as highly of Edward as Edward thought of
himself. Each morning after she dressed herself for school, Abilene
The china rabbit was in
possession of an extraordinary wardrobe composed of handmade silk
suits, custom shoes fashioned from the finest leather and designed
specifically for his rabbit feet, and a wide array of hats equipped
with holes so that they could easily fit over Edward’s large and
expressive ears. Each pair of well-cut pants had a small pocket for
Edward’s gold pocket watch. Abilene wound this watch for him each
“Now, Edward,” she said to him after she
was done winding the watch, “when the big hand is on the twelve and the
little hand is on the three, I will come home to you.”
She placed Edward on a chair in the dining room and positioned the
chair so that Edward was looking out the window and could see the path
that led up to the Tulane front door. Abilene balanced the watch on his
left leg. She kissed the tips of his ears, and then she left and Edward
spent the day staring out at Egypt Street, listening to the tick of his
watch and waiting.
Of all the seasons of
the year, the rabbit most preferred winter, for the sun set early then
and the dining-room windows became dark and Edward could see his own
reflection in the glass. And what a reflection it was! What an elegant
figure he cut! Edward never ceased to be amazed at his own fineness.
In the evening, Edward sat at the dining-room table with the other
members of the Tulane family: Abilene; her mother and father; and
Abilene’s grandmother, who was called Pellegrina. True, Edward’s ears
barely cleared the tabletop, and true also, he spent the duration of
the meal staring straight ahead at nothing but the bright and blinding
white of the tablecloth. But he was there, a rabbit at the table.
Abilene’s parents found it charming that Abilene considered Edward
real, and that she sometimes requested that a phrase or story be
repeated because Edward had not heard it.
“Papa,” Abilene would say, “I’m afraid that Edward didn’t catch that last bit.”
Abilene’s father would then turn in the direction of Edward’s ears and
speak slowly, repeating what he had just said for the benefit of the
china rabbit. Edward pretended, out of courtesy to Abilene, to listen.
But, in truth, he was not very interested in what people had to say.
And also, he did not care for Abilene’s parents and their condescending
manner toward him. All adults, in fact, condescended to him.
Only Abilene’s grandmother spoke to him as Abilene did, as one equal to
another. Pellegrina was very old. She had a large, sharp nose and
bright, black eyes that shone like dark stars. It was Pellegrina who
was responsible for Edward’s existence. It was she who had commissioned
his making, she who had ordered his silk suits and his pocket watch,
his jaunty hats and his bendable ears, his fine leather shoes and his
jointed arms and legs, all from a master craftsman in her native
France. It was Pellegrina who had given him as a gift to Abilene on her
And it was Pellegrina who came each night to tuck Abilene into her bed and Edward into his.
“Will you tell us a story, Pellegrina?” Abilene asked her grandmother each night.
“Not tonight, lady,” said Pellegrina.
“When?” asked Abilene. “What night?”
“Soon,” said Pellegrina. “Soon there will be a story.”
And then she turned off the light, and Edward and Abilene lay in the dark of the bedroom.
“I love you, Edward,” Abilene said each night after Pellegrina had
left. She said those words and then she waited, almost as if she
expected Edward to say something in return.
Edward said nothing. He said nothing because, of course, he could not
speak. He lay in his small bed next to Abilene’s large one. He stared
up at the ceiling and listened to the sound of her breath entering and
leaving her body, knowing that soon she would be asleep. Because
Edward’s eyes were painted on and he could not close them, he was
Sometimes, if Abilene put him into
his bed on his side instead of on his back, he could see through the
cracks in the curtains and out into the dark night. On clear nights,
the stars shone, and their pinprick light comforted Edward in a way
that he could not quite understand. Often, he stared at the stars all
night until the dark finally gave way to dawn.
THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD
TULANE by Kate DiCamillo. Text copyright © 2006 by Kate DiCamillo.
Illustrations copyright © 2006 by Bagram Ibatoulline. Published by
Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.