Children’s books have always been important to me. Good children’s literature should be enjoyed by children of all ages, including adults. Despite several moves, I have still hung on to all of the picture books that I enjoyed reading to our children – I can’t let them go.
One author, not included in that collection of mine until recently, is Kate DiCamillo. I discovered her books at a reading conference and they have captivated me. I have fallen in love with her haunting style. She has a direct approach with difficult subjects. Somewhere in the beautiful, polished stories she creates, there comes an upper cut of a fist – a shot of realism that we know is always part of life, but should it be in a book for children?
One of the things that a good children’s book does is to allow children to experience the real world vicariously, which includes sadness and loss. Through the story the child can safely imagine how they would react in the same situation. One fantasy author said once “if it’s too scary for adults, give it to children.”
Here are the books that I’ve read from this author. Though they are poignant, with DiCamillo’s books whenever there is loss, there is also redemption. Why not read one aloud, and if you can’t find a child to read to, find an adult!
Also, here are some FAQs about the author:
The Magician’s Elephant
Peter wants to find his long lost sister. When a fortune teller tells him that an elephant will lead him there, what seems an impossibility, becomes an amazing story with a sense of everyday magic. A haunting modern tale about the transformative power of hope and the value of community.
‘The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane’
The timeless tale of a lost china rabbit. Edward goes on a difficult journey which causes him to grow and learn some important life lessons and to discover the true meaning of love.
‘Because of Winn Dixie’
A hymn of praise to dogs, friendship, and the South. In life sad and sweet and are always all mixed up together. Everything changes one day, when Opal goes into a supermarket and comes out with a scraggly dog.
A Christmas story full of compassion and joy. This is a beautifully illustrated, unusual story – unsentimental and real.
‘The Tiger Rising’
DeCamillo often has characters who just appear to her, and one day Rob showed up. He haunted her other stories, until she finally wrote this story about a tiger, grief, and redemption. Like a tiger (and grief) some things can’t be locked up forever!
‘The Tale of Despereaux’
Three unforgettable characters embark on a journey that will lead them to a horrible dungeon, a glittering castle, and into each other’s lives – a mouse, a rat, and a serving girl. A delicious soup of an old world tale with a cheeky twist.