Interview with Kate DiCamillo about THE BEATRYCE PROPHECY

Hi Kate! Thank you so much for joining us here at the MG Book Village to talk about your newest book, The Beatryce Prophecy.

Would you care to start things off by sharing what the novel is about?

The Beatryce Prophecy is a story about kings and queens, and prophecies and mermaids, and seahorses and goats.  Mostly, it’s the story of a girl named Beatryce who can read and write in a time and place when it is against the law for a girl to do either of those things.  It’s the story of how Beatryce claims who she is and finds her way home.

Before we get more into the story, I feel I need to ask about one character in particular. Answelica! In your work, you’ve created dozens of unforgettable animal characters, but this menacing, fiercely loyal goat might be the most memorable for me. I certainly won’t forget her for a long time! Was there a real life inspiration behind Answelica?

Oh, Answelica.  I love her, too.  And I don’t know where she came from!  She was one of those characters who just showed up–fully formed and full of surprises.  I loved her (and her hard head and big teeth and powers of discernment) from the minute she arrived, and I miss her still.

In an author’s note, you mention that this story has been with you, kicking around in your imagination, for decades. Why do you think it finally decided to come out now? 

What happened was this: I started the story in the summer of 2009 and I worked on it for awhile and then forgot about it.  I mean, I truly forgot about.  Entirely.  And then in 2017, I cleaned out a closet and found the beginning pages and I was like: oh, this.  This goat!  This girl!  I have to tell this story.  And so I started working on it again.

While you never state precisely when this story takes place, it seems to occur in a medieval time and space. Does this sort of world hold any particular appeal for you as a writer? As a reader? Why did you choose to Beatryce’s story there and then?

You’re right!  I never do say when and where it takes place, and part of the reason is because I’m not sure myself (I tip my hand about that uncertianity at the end of the book).  When the story arrived, when I started telling it, I knew that I was in a different place and time from this one.  And that’s all I knew.  I just followed the characters through that world, their world.

So many of us, adults especially, take for granted that reading is a human right, and so many of us, in this community especially, work so hard to ensure that every child learn to read so they can exercise that right. Among other things, The Beatryce Prophecy reminds us how precious, important, and powerful the act of reading – and writing – is. Would you care to share any of your thoughts and feelings about all of that?

Yes, so much of this story for me is about the empowerment that comes through reading and writing. The book is dedicated to my mother who gave me the gift of words.  I struggled to learn to read.  And when I could finally do it, I remember very clearly thinking: all things are possible now.

You have worked with a number of remarkable illustrators. Is there anything you especially enjoy about having a visual artist depict the characters and settings that you create with words?

It’s one of the great gifts of writing books for kids–watching someone take the characters in your imagination and bring them to life through art.  With Sophie it was so, so moving to watch her do this.  She and I both had the feeling that instead of creating the words and the art for this story, we were insteading remembering something we already knew.

The Beatryce Prophecy is illustrated by the fabulous Sophie Blackall. What was the experience like working with her?

Well, see above.  It was truly miraculous.  I wept a lot.  She makes so much light with this art.  Every line of it is a gift.

What do you hope your readers – the young ones, in particular – take away from The Beatryce Prophecy?

I hope that they feel less alone when they finish the book.  

I hope that they feel empowered.

When can readers get their hands on The Beatryce Prophecy, and are there any events or appearances you’d like to let us know about?

September 28th is when the girl and the goat go out into the world!

Go to your local bookstore to find their story!

Kate DiCamillo (Louisiana’s Way Home): Books Between, Episode 60

Episode Outline:

Listen to the episode here!


Hi and welcome to Books Between – a podcast for teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone who loves middle grade books! I believe in the power of stories to lift us up and help us discover who we really are.  My goal is to help you connect kids with those incredible books and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen.

I am your host, Corrina Allen – a mom of two preteen girls, a 5th grade teacher in Central New York, and really, really glad that September is over.  I always feel like, for educators, September is a little bit like childbirth and having a newborn. Somehow you forget the utter exhaustion and work and lack of sleep every time. And instead you focus on the fresh start! Getting the room set up! Getting to know new personalities and a chance to get right THIS time what you you struggled with last time. And you forget that it took you MONTHS to get them into a decent schedule. And that the first weeks are just…. triage.   So… in solidarity with all the exhausted and overworked teachers and parents out there – I see you. I feel you. I AM you.

And after 15+ years of teaching, I did two things this September that helped my stress level a bit.

  1. I went to bed. And if you know me at ALL – you know how hard this is for me. I am a night owl. I am most inspired between 9pm and 1am. But when I have to get up for work at 5:15 – it was killing me.  Probably literally.
  2. I cut myself some slack. I DID NOT have my classroom “picture ready” on the first day of school. For the last few years, I have decorated my door with all the books I’ve read over the summer with favorite quotes. Nope – not this year. I just couldn’t pull it off. And that was…. honestly disappointing, but I think we need to give ourselves some grace with that stuff. I think we internalize all those Pinterest/Instagram ideas of what an “ideal” teacher and classroom should be and we give ourselves crap when we fall short of that imagined perfection. When in reality – NO one has it all together. Not the “education thought leader” with hundreds of thousands of followers, not the educator with the inspiring YouTube videos, not the teacher with that amazing new book out – NONE of them are living up to what we’re all “supposed to” be doing. Something is falling through the cracks. And I find the ones who admit that are really the ones worth listening to.

So, it is now October. I’m more rested and sooo ready to dive back into things – including bringing you some fantastic interviews this fall!

This is episode #60 and today I’m sharing a conversation I had this past summer with Kate DiCamillo about her latest novel, coming out tomorrow – Louisiana’s Way Home!

Before we dive into that, I want to give you a few updates.

The Middle Grade at Heart Book Club pick for October is The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill and The Hotel Between by Sean Easley is the November pick.

Also – #MGBooktober is BACK!!  The MGBookVillage is hosting a month of awesome middle grade related book prompts. We hope that you and your students will join in the fun. Just use #MGBooktober to post your responses and to find everyone else’s pics.


And finally – remember to set yourself a reminder for Monday nights at 9pm EST so you don’t miss the #MGBookChat Twitter chat!  This month some of the topics are: Teachers as Readers, Middle Grade Spooktacular (Why Scary Stories Matter), Building Vocabulary with Middle Grade Books, and Taboo Roll Call: Does anything go in Middle Grade now?  Those all sound amazing – so see you Monday nights!

Kate DiCamillo – Interview Outline

Our special guest this week is Kate DiCamillo – author of Because of Winn-Dixie, Tiger Rising, Flora & Ulysses, The Tale of Despereaux, among so many other incredible books. I KD_2014_RGB_72got the opportunity to chat with her this summer about Louisiana’s Way Home– the follow-up to her 2016 novel, Raymie Nightingale. We talk about why she decided to write a sequel, Pinocchio, bologna sandwiches, and of course her latest novel – Louisiana’s Way Home.  


Take a listen…

Louisiana’s Way Home

Your latest novel, Louisiana’s Way Home, is coming out this October. I had the opportunity to read an ARC and simply fell in love this story. It has so much depth and so much clarity all at the same time.  For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it?

This is the first time you’ve revisited the world of a previous novel.  What was your journey to decide that you wanted to go further into Louisiana’s story?

Early on in the book, Louisiana observes that “There are the rescuers in this world and there are the rescued.”  Which one are you?

My daughter would like to know – do you like bologna sandwiches?

You are known for your vibrant character names but in this book – you have three characters with the same name!

bk_louisiana_198pxThroughout the novel there is this small thread about the book Pinocchio and how most people don’t remember that Pinocchio kills the cricket at the beginning of the story! It made me think that perhaps adults don’t remember how dark the stories they grew up with actually were…

You’ve mentioned before that when you are writing, the trajectory of the story or the characters will often surprise you.  Were there any unexpected parts of Louisiana’s Way Home?

**BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Kate and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 36:18 mark.

Your Writing Life

Was it challenging to write a novel that would be satisfying for readers of Raymie Nightingale but that would also stand on its own?

If you can talk about it….. what are you working on now?

Your Reading Life

One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books.  Did you have a special teacher or librarian who helped foster your reading life as a child?  And if so, what did they do that made such a difference?

What were some of your most influential reads as a child?

What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?


Kate’s website –

Kate on Facebook:


Books & Authors We Chatted About:

Pinnochio (Carlo Collodi)

The Juniper Tree, and Other Tales from Grimm (Illustrated by Maurice Sendak)

Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell)

The 21 Balloons (William Pene du Bois)

A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary)

Stuart Little (E.B. White)

Black Beauty (Anna Sewell)

Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell)

Polly & Buster (Sally Rippin)

The Borrowers (Mary Norton)

Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)

The Search for Delicious (Natalie Babbitt)

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground (Rita Williams Garcia)



Alright, that wraps up our show this week!

If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network EPN_badgefeatures podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well.

Thanks and see you soon!  Bye!


Corrina Allen is a 5th grade teacher in Central New York and mom of two energetic tween girls. She is passionate about helping kids discover who they are as readers.

Corrina is the host of Books Between – a podcast to help teachers, parents, and librarians connect children between 8 and 12 to books they’ll love.

Find her on Twitter at @corrinaaallen or Instagram at @Corrina_Allen.