Kate DiCamillo is an American author who writes novels for children and adults. Her first novel was published in 2000, Because of Winn-Dixie, a story of a ten-year old girl Opal, who moved with her father to Florida to start a new life. All she wished for was a friend, a wish that became a reality when she met a scruffy dog she named Winn-Dixie. Although the synopsis is about the friendship between Opal and Winn-Dixie, Dicamillo was able to touch the hearts of readers, young and old alike. It was even adapted into a movie in 2005.
Her book earned numerous awards since its publication like the Josette Frank Award and the Mark Twain Award in 2000 and 2003, respectively. Fifteen years after the release of her first novel, Kate has written nearly 20 novels and chapter books. She still continues to get recognition from her works and in 2014, was again awarded the Newbery Medal for Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures as the best children’s book in 2013. On the same year, she was also appointed by The Library of Congress as the fourth Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Here is a look at some interesting facts not all people may know about her.
1. She was born in Philadelphia, PA on March 25, 1964.
2. Her first novel was Because of Winn-Dixie published in 2000, she was 36 years old.
3. Most of the fiction stories she writes have animal characters.
4. She always wanted to be a writer but she said that she was not interested in writing.
5. She took an expository writing course while she was in junior college and her first assignment was to write a 500-word essay.
6. As previously said, she had no interest in writing that was why she put off finishing the assignment not until the day before it was due.
7. Her inspiration for the essay was a strange musician who was sitting on top of a dog food sack, playing a tambourine who asked her for loose change.
8. She ended writing about the lady in detail and her essay was read in front of the class because her teacher, a graduate student named Trey Greer noticed how she was able to come up with her essay because according to him, she paid attention to what she saw. It was something she did not understand that time but over the years, it was how she wrote her stories, by looking at other people and knowing each has a story to tell.
9. The title of her first novel was derived from the name of the grocery where she saw the lady musician playing, the Winn-Dixie.
10. While growing up, she was a sickly girl who had bouts of pneumonia that was why she was always indoors.
11. She loved the book The Twenty-One Balloons and she was enthralled with the biography of botanist and inventor George Washington Carver.
12. When she moved to Minnesota, she landed a job in a book warehouse and was assigned in the children’s books section.
13. One day, she brought home her favorite book and transcribed it just so she would understand how it was written. The book was The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963.
14. Her other published novels included, The Tiger Rising, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Magician’s Elephant.