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Biography Kate DiCamillo

2014-2015 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Kate DiCamillo, 2014-15 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Photo credit: Shawn Miller, Library of Congress.

Kate DiCamillo, 2014-2015 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, was the fourth writer to hold this position. During her two-year term, DiCamillo traveled across America to promote her platform, “Stories Connect Us,” which engaged towns, schools, hospitals, community centers—anywhere people can gather and talk about books they have read together. She encouraged reading communities to explore how literature for all ages can change how they see one another.

Kate DiCamillo is a two-time recipient of the Newbery Medal, recipient of the Newbery Honor, and a two-time nominee for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature. Themes of hope and belief amid impossible circumstances are a common thread in much of Kate DiCamillo’s writing, which includes more than two dozen novels, picture books, and chapter books. DiCamillo’s best known works include her instant New York Times best-seller The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (2006), which tells the story of a haughty china rabbit who undergoes a profound transformation after finding himself face down on the ocean floor lost and waiting to be found. The Tale of Despereaux (2003), the Newbery Medal-winning novel that later inspired an animated adventure from Universal Pictures, stars a tiny mouse with exceptionally large ears who is driven by love to become an unlikely hero.

Kate DiCamillo’s own journey is something of a dream come true. After moving to Minnesota from Florida in her 20s, homesickness and a bitter winter helped inspire Because of Winn-Dixie (2000), her first published novel, which became a runaway best-seller and earned a Newbery Honor in 2001. “After the Newbery committee called me, I spent the whole day walking into walls,” she says. “I was stunned. And very, very happy.” The American Library Association confers the Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children, with Newbery Honors awarded for books worthy of attention each year. The award is one of the most prestigious in young people’s literature.

DiCamillo’s second novel, The Tiger Rising (2001), went on to become a National Book Award finalist. Since then, the master storyteller has written for a wide range of ages, including two comical early chapter-book series, Mercy Watson, which stars a “porcine wonder” with an obsession for buttered toast, and Bink and Gollie, which celebrates the tall and short of a marvelous friendship.

DiCamillo’s most recent novel, Beverly, Right Here, is the third in her critically-acclaimed “Three Rancheros” trilogy for middle-graders, which follows the stories of three unlikely friends in 1970s Florida. The first novel in the trilogy, Raymie Nightingale, was a National Book Award finalist in 2016. DiCamillo published a new early chapter book in her Tales from Deckawoo Drive series, Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible in June 2020, as well a picture book in 2019, A Piglet Named Mercy, the precursor to her Mercy Watson early chapter-book series.

DiCamillo says about stories, “When we read together, we connect. Together, we see the world. Together, we see each other.” Born in Philadelphia, the author lives in Minneapolis, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week. 

DiCamillo was preceded as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by Jon Scieszka (2008–9), Katherine Paterson (2010–11), and Walter Dean Myers (2012–13).

Selected Works at the Library of Congress

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