Newbery Contender: “The Beatryce Prophecy” by Kate DiCamillo

Book review: The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo (tween fiction)

Kate DiCamillo is the author of many award-winning books, including The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, which both won the Newbery Award, Because of Winn-Dixie, a Newbery Honor winner, The Tiger Rising, a National Book Award Finalist, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. She is one of only six authors to have won two Newbery Award medals. She is known for covering themes of love, loneliness, and emotional change.

In The Beatryce Prophecy, there is a girl, a goat, a boy with a sword, a strange old hermit, and a monk. When the monk, Brother Edik, finds a girl (Beatryce) ill and asleep, curled up with the monastery’s resident troublemaking goat, Answelica, he realizes a prophecy he made might come true – that a girl will one day unseat a king – and thus the girl is in danger.

Brother Edik goes against the wishes of his abbot to nurse the girl back to health and finds that Beatryce can read and write, which is something that is against the law for girls to do. As Beatryce’s memories slowly return to her, and she realizes just why the king is looking for her, she sets out from the monastery to try to find her way home to her mother, bringing the hard-headed goat with her. Along the way, she meets a boy who lost his parents to a highway robber, a strange hermit with a secret, and discovers that through stories, all can find their way home.

Simple yet powerfully written, in The Beatryce Prophecy, DiCamillo tells a lovely tale about stories and family, with a memorable cast of charming characters in a medieval setting. The book also contains wonderful illustrations by two-time Caldecott medalist Sophie Blackall, making it something akin to the illuminated manuscripts that appear in the book itself.

How did you like this book? Would you like a hard-headed goat as a companion? Have you ever written a story like the tale Beatryce tells about the mermaid?

~ Ms. Emily

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