The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (published by Candlewick Press & Walker Books Australia)
“There will one day come a girl child who will unseat
A king and bring about a great change.” (The Beatryce Prophecy)
Kate DiCamillo’s books for children are amongst the best in the world. Titles such as Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux are much loved by young readers, and also by their parents and other adults. Her works are highly awarded and belong in the canon of children’s literature.
The Raymie Nightingale trilogy: Raymie Nightingale, Louisiana’s Way Home and Beverly, Right Here are my favourite of Kate’s works, and stand alongside my cherished copy of her soulful, heart-warming Christmas picture book, Great Joy (illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline).
There is intrigue and wonder to explore in Kate’s new children’s novel, The Beatryce Prophecy. Young Beatryce is being pursued by the king because she is a girl who can read and write. Accompanied by her loyal, although fearsome, goat Answelica; Edic the monk with the crooked, wandering eye who illuminates the chronicles of prophecy; open-hearted Jack Dory; and the king who doesn’t want to be king, she seeks truth and the story that may explain who she is and where she will find home.
Thank you for speaking to PaperbarkWords, Kate.
Thank you! I am so grateful for all of your kind words above, and also I’m grateful to you for reading The Beatryce Prophecy.
What is the significance of your title, The Beatryce Prophecy?
This book begins with a prophecy—a prophecy about a girl child.
As Beatryce finds her way to who she is, she fulfils that prophecy, and also confounds it.
Why have you set the story during a time of war?
War is ever-present in human history—and there is also always this hope that we find our way to a world where that is not the case. And I hope that this story hints at that possibility.
You have named your characters with great care. Could you select one character and explain why you have chosen their name?
Character names are the only part of writing that is easy for me. I don’t think about them—they just kind of arrive. It did take me a long time to know, absolutely, what Beatryce’s family name was. And then I was reading a book by Edna O’Brien and there was the name “Abelard” and I knew that was it.
As well as being an appealing character, what is the role of Answelica the goat?
Well, I love her. And she makes me laugh. She provides comedic relief. But she is also kind of a moral compass.
What are some of the main attributes of your wonderful character, Jack Dory?
Jack Dory is good at everything. He is light of heart, but at the same time, he carries around the great sorrow of losing his parents.
Beatryce teaches Jack to read. Why does he describe reading as “a door that led to a lighted room”?
Ah, because that is how it felt to me when I learned to read. Each word felt like a door being opened.
What are some of the themes or ideas that you explore in this book?
I’m never aware of themes as I work, but afterward I can see some of what is in the story—the power of words, stories, forgiveness, love.
You have woven values of trust, truth, forgiveness and love within your tale. Which of these is the most important, and why?
Wow, that’s a tough question. I guess I would answer love. Because all of those other gifts flow from love.
Your glimpses of the mermaid and seahorses develop during the course of the tale into a fulfilling climax. Why have you chosen these images?
Like Beatryce, I was preoccupied with mermaids and seahorses as I was telling this story.
Both of these creatures seem magical and full of promise to me.
Which of Sophie Blackall’s illustrations in The Beatryce Prophecy particularly resonate with you?
I love everything that Sophie does. Every single piece of her art is infused with magic and joy. There is a two page spread of Beatryce on horseback that makes my heart skip a beat every time I see it.
Brother Edik has a comforting supply of maple sugar candies. Which maple sugar shape would you choose to eat?
Oh, I would love to have a maple star.
Who do you hope reads The Beatryce Prophecy?
I hope that kids and adults read this story. I hope that they read it out loud. I hope they read it together.
Thanks for this beautiful book, Kate, and also for answering these questions. The Beatryce Prophecy will no doubt be acclaimed as one of your best works.
“We shall all, in the end,
Be led to where we belong.
We shall all, in the end,
Find our way home.” (The Beatryce Prophecy)