One Writer’s Journey

January 6, 2014

Kate DiCamillo

My favorite book by Ambassador Kate DiCamillo.

Ambassador Kate DiCamillo.

I have to admit — I like the sound of that which is a good thing since DiCamillo was recently named the fourth national ambassador for young people’s literature.  The ceremony will be held at the Library of Congress on January 10.  

The first person to receive this honor was Jon Sciezka who makes complete sense to me since his books are so appealing.  He was followed by Katherine Paterson in 2010 and Walter Dean Myers in 2012.  Me?  I’m truly looking forward to DiCamillo’s tenure.

Given all of the books that she’s written and how amazing her body of work is, one series in particular stands out for me and that’s Mercy Watson.  At one point, Mercy Watson formed the core of our read aloud library.  We all adore this pig with a thing for hot-buttered toast, tutus and the occasional tiara.  And it wasn’t just the humor.

I also loved DiCamillo’s willingness to cross boundaries.   The Mercy Watson books aren’t just chapter books, they are chapter books with full color illustrations.  To pull this off, DiCamillo had to sacrifice the chapter book’s typical length to give plenty of space to Chris Van Dusen’s illustrations.  Not sure what I mean?  The first book, Mercy Watson to the Rescue, is only 1929 words long.  On the short end, The Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark is 4737 words long.  On the long end, The Boxcar Children is 17,087 words long.

We all talk about breaking new ground and most of us have a manuscript that isn’t easily categorized.  DiCamillo shows us that these pieces can sell, and sell well, but that we may have to be willing to give something up to make the manuscript work.

Read the entire story about DiCamillo’s appointment here.  

–SueBE

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1 Comment »

  1. On my reading list.

    Comment by Juliana Lee — January 6, 2014 @ 1:58 am | Reply


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