The Hope and Magic of Kate DiCamillo

0
860

     Kate DiCamillo has written many novels, including: The Tale of Despereaux (a Newbery Medal winner and animated motion picture), Because of Winn-Dixie (a N

     Kate DiCamillo has written many novels, including: The Tale of Despereaux (a Newbery Medal winner and animated motion picture), Because of Winn-Dixie (a Newbery Honor winner and motion picture), and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  She was recently at the Tattered Cover Book Store in Highlands Ranch to promote her new novel Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.

 

     Kate DiCamillo wanted as a child to be a veterinarian. However, it took one look at a gravely injured animal to say “I don’t have what it takes.” Even though she didn’t become a vet, animals play an important role in her writing. When I met her, I asked if she had pets as a kid. “I grew up with a standard poodle,” said Ms. DiCamillo, “named Nanette. ” She also had mice, hermit crabs, and fish.

 

     For Kate DiCamillo, it’s easy to write from the perspective of an animal. “I do it in close third (person), imagining myself into the character,” she said. “I never think that it should be hard for me to think like a squirrel, because it isn’t hard for me to think like a squirrel. ” In addition to animals, another seemingly important common element in her work is sadness. Why is there sorrow in all of her books? “Because it is painful to be a human being,” Kate explains. However, in Flora and Ulysses the sorrow is harder to detect because there are little details distracting you, like huge hair, waitresses, and giant donuts.

 

     Why does Kate DiCamillo write children’s novels? “Because in kids’ books you can still have impossible things happen, and you can’t do that in adult books. Also, when you write for kids, you have to end with it being hopeful. And with adult books they’re not as much into hope. So, hope and magic. ”

 

     How did Flora and Ulysses come together? One day, Ms. DiCamillo found a squirrel dying on her front steps. Because she could not save it in reality, she thought of ideas to save it in her mind. The next day, somehow, a vacuum cleaner she had inherited from her mother and the story of the squirrel combined, resulting in this plot: the vacuum cleaner almost kills the squirrel, Flora saves the squirrel, and the squirrel becomes a super hero named Ulysses. For the rest, you’ll have to read this very funny book, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants or needs a good laugh.