Flashback to the day I had the incredible opportunity to meet the one and only Kate DiCamillo. I drove with a group of colleagues to a school about an hour away from my hometown, filled with eager teachers, parents, and kids, all gathered to bask in the magic of her words. As I drove to witness this literary celebration, little did I know that it would turn into a cherished memory. Kate, with her infectious spunk and bouncy hair, spoke to each person in the room with a personal touch that left a lasting impression. When she signed my book, she noticed the telltale signs of impending motherhood, congratulated me, and addressed my book to “Baby Dahl.” It was a moment of connection, kindness, and, of course, a sprinkle of Kate’s wisdom: “Stories are everywhere. All you have to do is pay attention.” Join me as I share more about this unforgettable encounter and explore the enchanting world of Kate DiCamillo.

Background and Education

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Florida, Kate’s love for storytelling blossomed at an early age. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Florida and eventually moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota where she worked at a book warehouse, which fueled her passion for literature.

Why is Kate DiCamillo Important?

Heartwarming tales, relatable characters, and a sprinkle of magic – that’s the DiCamillo touch. Her stories resonate with both kids and parents, emphasizing the importance of kindness, empathy, and courage. Kate DiCamillo has received numerous awards for her contributions to children’s literature, including the prestigious Newbery Medal for The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses.

Did you know that her favorite book is the timeless classic, Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White? The echoes of White’s enchanting storytelling resonate in Kate’s work, creating a beautiful synergy between two literary giants. These shared qualities have sparked incredible discussions with my students, as we explore the themes woven into her narratives. Kate DiCamillo’s stories don’t just entertain; they inspire, ignite curiosity, and foster meaningful connections – a testament to the enduring power of literature.

One of the things I appreciate about her is that she is unintentional about literary devices in her writing. I heard her explain this to the audience during the evening when I met her. In her books, there are beautiful themes and symbolism, but she does not plan those ideas out or add them to her writing on purpose. She feels that if you identify a theme, then it was meant to be there to speak specifically to you.


Kate DiCamillo stands as a literary luminary with many prestigious awards in her career. Notably, she clinched the Newbery Medal for Flora & Ulysses in 2014 and for The Tale of Despereaux in 2004. Her acclaimed work Because of Winn-Dixie earned her the Newbery Honor in 2001, while The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane secured the Boston Globe Horn Book Award in 2006. Adding to her accolades, DiCamillo, along with co-author Alison McGhee, received Theodor Geisel Medal and honor for Bink and Gollie in 2011 and Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride” in 2007, respectively. Beyond the realm of awards, Kate DiCamillo’s profound impact on literature is underscored by her role as a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Emerita, a distinguished position bestowed upon her by the Library of Congress.

Does Kate DiCamillo Have a Dog?

Absolutely, and how delightful is the canine connection between Kate DiCamillo and her furry friend! While Kate doesn’t have a dog named Winn-Dixie, she shares her life with a charming companion named Ramona. It’s a nod to the inimitable Ramona Quimby, a beloved character from Beverly Cleary’s timeless tales. The bond between authors and their pets adds an extra layer of charm to the literary world, creating a tapestry of stories that extend beyond the pages of books. So here’s to Ramona, the canine muse, and to the joy that pets bring to our lives, just like the characters they’re named after.

How to Share Kate Dicamillo’s Books with Your Kids

Navigating the enchanting world of Kate DiCamillo with your kids becomes a delightful adventure with a few simple strategies. Begin with age-appropriate gems like Mercy Watson for the little ones, capturing their attention with whimsical tales of a porcine wonder who loves to eat stacks of toast with a “great deal of butter.” As your readers grow, journey into more profound narratives like The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which is my personal favorite and also the inspiration for the name of my business.

During storytime, engage your kids with thoughtful questions:

  • What inspires you in this story?
  • What imagery interested you?
  • What did you like or dislike?
  • Why would the author choose this path?
  • What is your favorite quote or life lesson from the reading?

These prompts open the door to meaningful discussions, allowing you to delve into the magic of DiCamillo’s narratives. Encourage them to express likes and dislikes, fostering a connection to the characters and themes. To deepen the experience, ponder questions like, “Why would the author choose this path?” and explore their favorite quotes or life lessons from the reading. By incorporating these questions, you transform the reading experience into an interactive journey of discovery.

Writing Style

Kate’s writing is a blend of whimsy and wisdom, capturing the essence of childhood with profound insights. Her words have a way of making even the simplest moments extraordinary, making her books perfect companions for bedtime stories or lazy Sunday afternoons. I also appreciate that many of them are enjoyed by adults.

“I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story.” – CS Lewis

Books Made Into Movies

Movie nights, anyone? Some of Kate DiCamillo’s beloved books have made their way to the big screen. Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux are cinematic treasures that bring her stories to life in a whole new way. You will also find The Magician’s Elephant, The Tiger Rising, as well as Flora & Ulysses.

Books for All Ages:

Mercy Watson
illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Mercy Watson, the toast-loving pig, has become a beloved character in our household over the past year. My son is utterly obsessed with emulating her culinary preferences, often insisting on enjoying his toast with a “great deal of butter,” just like the adventurous and delightful Mercy Watson.

for ages 4-7

Great Joy
illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo is a heartwarming picture book that beautifully captures the spirit of the holiday season. We read this book every year. The story unfolds as a young girl’s compassionate act of kindness brings warmth and joy to the life of a street musician during a snowy Christmas Eve.

for ages 4-8

Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is a poignant and heartwarming tale of a young girl named Opal and her extraordinary bond with a stray dog she names Winn-Dixie. As the duo explores their small Southern town, the story beautifully unfolds, touching on themes of friendship, forgiveness, and the healing power of canine companionship.

for ages 7-10

The Tale of Despereaux
illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo is a captivating and enchanting novel that follows the adventures of a small mouse with big dreams. Despereaux, a courageous and unconventional hero, embarks on a quest to rescue a princess and discovers the transformative power of love and bravery along the way.

for ages 7-10

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
by Bagram Ibatoulline

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo is a poignant and magical story that traces the extraordinary journey of a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. This is my favorite of all her books. Through his travels and encounters with various owners, Edward learns profound lessons about love, loss, and the true meaning of belonging, making it a beautifully moving and timeless tale for readers of all ages.

for ages 7+

The Magician’s Elephant
illustrated by Yoko Tanaka

In The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, a young orphan named Peter Augustus Duchene sets out on a quest to find his long-lost sister and discovers an unexpected world of magic and wonder. The novel weaves a mesmerizing narrative filled with whimsy, compassion, and the transformative power of believing in the extraordinary.

for ages 7-10

The Puppets of Spelhorst
illustrated by Julie Morstad

The Puppets of Spelhorst is one of Kate DiCamillo’s newest books. It will be the first in a trilogy called Norendy Tales. This book is the only book I have yet to read, but I plan to remedy that soon! If it’s anything like her others (and if the ratings can have a say), it’s a great story!

for ages 7-10

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
illustrated by K. G. Campbell

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo is a hilarious and heartwarming tale that follows the unlikely friendship between Flora Belle Buckman and a squirrel named Ulysses, who gains superhero abilities after a vacuum cleaner incident. The novel beautifully combines a comic book-style narrative with themes of hope, friendship, and the extraordinary magic that can be found in the ordinary moments of life.

for ages 8-11

The Beatryce Prophecy
illustrated by Sophie Blackall

The Beatryce Prophecy is a captivating and enchanting novel that unfolds in a medieval setting, following the journey of a young girl named Beatryce who possesses a mysterious and extraordinary ability. As Beatryce navigates through a world filled with danger and wonder she meets a motley crew, including a strong-willed goat. The novel weaves a timeless tale of courage, friendship, and the enduring power of hope.

for ages 8-12

The Tiger Rising

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo is a novel that revolves around a young boy named Rob and his discovery of a caged tiger in the woods. As Rob grapples with grief and the complexities of life, the story unfolds into a powerful exploration of friendship, healing, and the pursuit of freedom. You’ll need a tissue for this one!

for ages 9-11

The Three Rancheros:
Raymie Nightingale, Beverly Right Here, and Louisiana’s Way Home

The Three Rancheros is a series of three beautiful stories of young friendship and life’s trials. In “Louisiana’s Way Home” by Kate DiCamillo, readers follow the unforgettable journey of Louisiana Elefante as she faces unexpected challenges and discovers the true meaning of family. The interconnected stories continue with “Raymie Nightingale” and “Beverly, Right Here,” exploring the lives of three friends and the enduring strength they find in each other during times of change and self-discovery.

for ages 9-13

So, whether you’re discovering Kate DiCamillo for the first time or revisiting her enchanting world, her stories are a gift to be shared. Grab a cup of tea, snuggle up with your little ones, and let the magic of DiCamillo’s words create lasting memories. Happy reading!

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