AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: KATE DICAMILLO
It’s October and the BOOK IT! Program is kicking off in schools across the country! This year we have partnered with award-winning author Kate DiCamillo to feature her book Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures on all of our program materials. Kate DiCamillo is a Newbery Medal winner, a National Book Award finalist and served as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Her books are instant classics and share a common theme of hope and belief, no matter the circumstances.
My family and I have had a long reading history with Kate’s books. Whether for school assignments, mother-daughter book club or serendipitously finding the books in the library, each book we have read, we have loved. From my family to you, here is a Kate DiCamillo reading guide for your at home or classroom reading. These tales and characters will touch your students’ hearts and stay with them - and you - long after they are done reading.
Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken, illustrated by Harry Bliss. This humorous account of a chicken who longs for adventure features marauding pirates, the bright lights of the big top and strangers with ulterior motives. Ultimately though, Louise longs for the safety of home. This book is perfect for those children who long for the independence to explore their world, safe in the knowledge they can return to the security of their home.
Mercy Watson series, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. Mercy Watson is a “porcine wonder” of a pig who will do just about anything for hot buttered toast, leading to all kinds of inadvertent excitement. Mercy is featured in six adventures, which involve her “parents,” her neighbors, and-very often-the fire department! We learn more about two memorable characters from the Mercy Watson series, Leroy Ninker and Francine Poulet, in their own companion chapter books. Visit www.mercywatson.com for games and activities to extend these books.
Bink & Gollie series is written by DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile. These deceptively simple looking books are actually graphic novels with training wheels and feature endearing characters based on the authors. The Bink and Gollie books show kids that you can be true to yourself and still support your friends as they attempt to achieve their dreams. Visit www.binkandgollie.com for fun stuff and a teacher’s guide.
Kate DiCamillo is an author who writes stories that surprise you with their honesty and delight you with their whimsy and imagination. The depth of emotion felt by her characters is not glossed over, it is raw and real and it resonates with readers of all ages. Here is a snapshot of her middle to upper elementary books.
Because of Winn-Dixie–My daughter and I read this for our public library’s Mother-Daughter book club and then watched the movie (rated PG). Kids from 8-12 in the book club (and their mothers) all found something to love about this story of a girl, in need of a friend, and the dog she rescues who helps her find them. This title is a Newbery Honor book.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. This charming, heartbreaking, ultimately uplifting book tells of the adventures of Edward Tulane, a china rabbit who does not know how to love. Through his travels he encounters many who love him, and finally he opens his heart. Make sure you have tissues at the ready! Visit www.edwardtulane.com for a teacher’s guide and reader’s theater.
The Magician’s Elephant. Ten year old orphan, Peter August Duchene, is told by a fortuneteller that his sister is alive, and then an elephant falls from the sky. How can these two events lead Peter to his sister and lead the elephant home? My daughter’s fourth grade class read this book and as each of her friends turned ten years old that year, she insisted on giving them a copy of the book. She gave out so many copies that we were able to host a book discussion with her Girl Scout troop. Visit www.themagicianselephant.com for an activity kit, reading group guide and teacher discussion guide.
Flora and Ulysses: The Iluminated Adventures. I love Flora, the natural-born cynic. Holy bagumba, I admire her spunk and conviction, and ultimately her hope. This novel, with comic-style illustrations from K.G. Campbell, will appeal to boys and girls alike and is the winner of the Newbery Medal. Visit www.floraandulysses.com for teacher resources and discussion guides. And visit our website for Flora & Ulysses related printables and reading logs.
We are proud to partner with Kate for this year’s program materials and hope you enjoy her amazing collection of books. Visit www.katedicamillo.com for links to book-specific websites that contain readers’ discussion and teacher resource guides and more information about the author.