When we meet Edward, he is the beloved friend of Abilene, a ten year old girl who dresses him in the finest clothes and treats him like the important rabbit that he knows he is. Abilene lives with her mother and her grandmother, Pellegrina, who speaks to Edward as if she knows what he is thinking. Edward is just fine with his living situation, but gets annoyed at Abilene’s gushing, and doesn’t understand this feeling of love. One day, however, when the family takes a trip on a cruise ship, Edward is taken by some mean boys and accidentally thrown overboard.
Edward spends a long time at the bottom of the ocean. He begins to wonder if Abilene will ever come looking for him, and if she even misses him at all. When a fisherman named Lawrence finds Edward, he takes Edward home to his wife Nellie, who fixes him up and crafts a new outfit (a dress!) and a new name (Susanna!) for Edward. At first, Edward is not pleased by these changes, but begins to grow fond of Lawrence, Nellie, and the new life he has found. That is, of course, until one day, their terrible daughter, Lolly, throws Edward in the trash.
While at the dump, Edward becomes buried in trash and feels disgusting and beaten down. He begins to lose hope until one day, a slobbery dog fishes him out of the pile of garbage and brings him to his owner, a hobo named Bull. Bull loves Edward immediately. He makes an outfit out of his own clothes for Edward, renames him Malone, and takes Edward with him and his dog Lucy everywhere he goes. Edward loves Bull and Lucy, and his new life lasts for many years. "I have finally found peace and happiness," Edward thinks. However, one day on a railway car with Bull and Lucy, Edward gets tossed off the train by a mean and heartless conductor. So, once again, Edward is alone.
Edward is found by an old woman who thinks it’s a good idea to name him Clyde and tie him to the scarecrow to keep the birds away. Edward doesn’t seem to care. What’s the point of caring, anyway? One day, while the humiliated Edward is hanging there with no hope of ever coming down, a young boy named Bryce comes along and saves him. Bryce lives in a run-down shack with his little sister, Sarah Ruth, and their miserable, mean father who is very rarely around. Sarah Ruth is very ill; she coughs a lot and has no energy, and falls instantly in love with Edward. She names Edward Jangles, and cradles him like a baby doll. A curious new feeling for Edward, this cradling and closeness. Edward realizes that he loves Sarah Ruth right back, and finally feels he’s found his place. Sadly, Sarah Ruth’s illness wins the battle, and the sweet girl dies. Determined to get away from his father and the pain, Bryce takes Edward and they head to Memphis, where they will become an entertainment duo for all to see. When they stop at a diner, Bryce doesn’t have enough money to pay the bill. The owner becomes angry, takes Edward, and throws him on the ground, breaking him into little pieces. Once again, Edward is broken.
When Edward comes to, he realizes that Bryce has taken him to Lucius Clarke, the meticulous doll mender. Edward is fixed and better than new, but Lucius would not let Bryce keep him. He fixed Edward, but only with the intention to keep him and sell him one day. So, Edward is alone again, surrounded by dolls and sitting on a shelf. Edward wonders why he ever loved any of these people, if they are only going to leave him in the ocean, in the garbage, bruised, battered, and broken.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a heartwarming story about learning to love and dealing with loss. It is perfect for a class read aloud, book clubs, or independent reading. Packed with lessons about life, teachers will love teaching it as much as students will love reading it. It is truly a classic that never goes out of style, just like Edward.