Kate DiCamillo biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo

How to pronounce Kate DiCamillo: dee-camellow (last part rhymes with yellow)

Kate DiCamillo Biography

It's a pipe dream of many an aspiring author: publish your debut novel, claim a spot on the New York Times bestseller list, and rack up an astonishing array of awards, including a Newbery Honor. For Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn-Dixie, it was a dream come true--and nobody could have been more surprised than she was. "After the Newbery committee called me, I spent the whole days walking into walls. Literally," she says. "I was stunned. And very, very happy."

She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but moved with her family to Florida when she was five years old. "People talked more slowly and said words I had never heard before, like 'ain't' and 'y'all' and 'ma'am," she says, recalling her first impressions. "The town was small, and everybody knew everybody else. It was all so different from what I had known before, and I fell swiftly and madly in love."

Indeed, it was homesickness for Florida's warmth that helped inspire Because of Winn-Dixie, which Kate DiCamillo describes as "a hymn of praise to dogs, friendship, and the South." The author was experiencing winter in Minnesota, where she had moved when she was in her twenties. "I was also missing the sound of Southern people talking," she says. "And I was missing having a dog. One night before I went to sleep, I heart this little girl's voice with a Southern accent say, 'I have a dog named Winn-Dixie.' I just started writing down what India Opal Buloni was telling me."

Her second novel, the National Book Award finalist The Tiger Rising, is "considerably darker" than Because of Winn-Dixie," she notes, "but there's light and redemption in it." Once again, the story began with the appearance of a single character. "Rob Horton showed up in a short story I wrote and than hung around the house driving me crazy," she says. "I finally asked him what he wanted, and he told me he knew where there was a tiger." Like Opal in Because of Winn-Dixie, Rob struggles with the loss of a parent and ultimately discovers the healing power of friendship. "I don't think adults always realize how much friends mean to kids," Kate DiCamillo says. "My friends have been the saving grace of my life."

She credits one friend's son for inspiring her extraordinary new book, The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread. As she tells it, "A few years ago, my best friend's son asked me if I would write a story for him. 'Well,' I said, 'I don't normally write stories on command.' 'But this is a story that I know you would want to tell,' he said. 'It's about an unlikely hero. He has exceptionally large ears.' 'What happens to this hero?' I asked. 'I don't know,' he said. 'That's why I want you to write it down, so you can find out.' Well, Luke Bailey, three years later, here is the story of what happened to your exceptionally large-eared, unlikely hero."

When asked about her latest book, she says, "One Christmas, I received an elegantly dressed toy rabbit as a gift. I brought him home, placed him on a chair in my living room, and promptly forgot about him. A few days later, I dreamed that the rabbit was face-down on the ocean floor - lost, and waiting to be found. In telling The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, I was lost for a good long while, too. And then, finally, like Edward, I was found."

She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week. "E. B. White said, 'All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world,' " she says. "That's the way I feel too."

Kate DiCamillo's website

This bio was last updated on 07/30/2017. We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's a tough task. So, please help us - if the information about this author is out of date or inaccurate, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and publishers: If you wish to make changes to a bio, send the complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Interview

Kate DiCamillo and Yoko Tanaka, the illustrator of The Magician's Elephant, discuss the writing and illustrating of the book. In a separate Q&A, Kate discusses The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

A Q&A with Kate DiCamillo
author of The Magician's Elephant

What is your definition of magic? What has happened in your life that is magical or unexpected?

I guess my definition of magic is something very close to the definition the magician gives toward the end of the story: "Magic is always impossible. It begins with the impossible and ends with the impossible and is impossible in between. That is why it is magic." I would add, though, that while magic is impossible from beginning to end, it is also possible. Somehow (who knows how?) the impossible gets turned into the possible. That's magic. 

Which leads very nicely into the next part of this question: What has happened in my life that is magical or unexpected?
Telling stories seems like magic to me; it seems both impossible and possible in that same way. And what has happened to me and my stories — people reading them, liking them, and me getting to make my living telling them — well, talk about unexpected. Talk about magical.


The Magician's Elephant features an animal character.  This is a common theme in your novels. Why an elephant this time?

I didn't think, Oh boy, I'm going to put an elephant in ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Kate DiCamillo at BookBrowse
Flora and Ulysses jacket The Magician's Elephant jacket Great Joy jacket The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Kate DiCamillo but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

We recommend 38 similar authors

View all 38 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Educated
    Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Voted 2018 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Tara Westover had the kind of ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Voted 2018 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Towards the end of Madeline Miller...
  • Book Jacket: Children of Blood and Bone
    Children of Blood and Bone
    by Tomi Adeyemi
    Voted 2018 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What would you do if, in a ...
  • Book Jacket: Where the Crawdads Sing
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    by Delia Owens
    Voted 2018 Best Debut Novel Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Where the Crawdads Sing was a ...

See all Award Winners & Top 20

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Winter Soldier
by Daniel Mason

A story of war and medicine, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and of the mistakes we make.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Listen to the Marriage
    by John Jay Osborn

    The story of a couple in trouble and an exploration of the obstacles we put in our own way.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 ½ Deaths of
Evelyn Hardcastle

"Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read." - A. J. Finn

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.