Saturday dawned gray and gloomy, but that did not deter Oxford visitors from seeing baseball, softball, Ole Miss graduation -- and Kate DiCamillo! Over one hundred-fifty of Square Books Jr.'s favorite readers and their parents gathered at Off Square Books to hear Kate DiCamillo read from and talk about her award-winning books for children.
Ms. DiCamillo, or Kate, as anyone who has met her will feel comfortable calling her, began by reading from the Josette Frank Award winner and Newbery Honor book BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE. As fond as we are of that book and the movie made from it, hearing Kate read the first chapter was a thrill and seemed even funnier than we remember.
Taking questions from the audience, Kate paraphrased Ray Bradbury in saying that writing a novel is like "...jumping off a cliff and building your wings on the way down." She added that in writing one of her most recent books, THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT, she learned that one could also, by writing, "..build your own ladder out of the pit."
Her advice to aspiring writers? "Read, read, read." What she would say to all young people? "Read, read, read." Where she got her ideas and how she started? "Reading." She indulged her enthusiastic audience by reading from her Newbery Award winner, THE TALE OF DESPERAUX, and TIGER RISING when asked.
Kate patiently signed books for everyone who asked, and returned after lunch (she was thrilled to dine at City Grocery) to sign orders for those who could not be there and for Jr. stock. All went away happy, hoping she will return to Oxford with her next book, and, more importantly, hoping that she will keep writing her magical stories. Thank you Kate DiCamillo, and thank you Jennifer Roberts, from Candlewick, for coming, too!