Kate DiCamillo’s book Because of Winn-Dixie was awarded the Newbery Honor Award in 2000. She wrote it when she was homesick herself and it is about a girl who is dealing with the transition of a move, a subject close to my heart.
If you are also a fan of Kate DiCamillo, you’ll understand that her books are on my ‘go to shelf’ while writing. If you have never read any of Kate DiCamillo’s books, I strongly urge you do so. You won’t regret it.
In 2006, while teaching in Burma, I was introduced to her books. Since then, I cannot remember devouring books by any other author since discovering Roald Dahl as a kid. Apparently, a college professor once told Kate DiCamillo she had a way with words, and she most certainly does.
As a teacher, one of the things I love most about her writing is her rich vocabulary. She does not shy away from using words many people would consider too challenging for younger readers. Instead, she uses them in context so well that most readers, regardless of their age, can understand their meaning. And if not, she encourages her reader to find out:
“Reader, do you know what ‘perfidy’ means? I have a feeling you do, based on the little scene that has just unfolded here. But you should look up the word in your dictionary, just to be sure.”
– The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
Recently, I listened to an interview with her and she shared some sound advice on writing, reading, and listening:
“Teachers … read to them. Parents … if you can continue to read aloud to them … if you model for them … that will encourage the child to read … If you want to write, write … If you want to write, you should pay attention to people. Everybody has a story. Listen to people when they talk. Not because you want to steal their story but because almost everybody is interesting if you give them a chance and ask them the right questions … Listen, write, read. Pretty simple.”
Of course I was absolutely thrilled to find out she won the Newbery Medal Award this year. I have yet to read Flora and Ulysses, but I cannot wait to get my hands on it! I hope I have encouraged at least one person out there to read her work.