Kate DiCamillo may be best known for her beloved novel Because of Winn-Dixie, which was made into a movie that was released last year. The book revolves around a lovable mutt and his human companion, India Opal Buloni. The names alone should give you a sense of the imagination at work in DiCamillo’s books.
“I love strange names, and I love making them up,” she says. “Also, I grew up in the South, and there are a lot of delightfully quirky names down there.” She calls Minneapolis home these days and points to her day job in a bookstore as the source of inspiration to become a children’s book author.
DiCamillo has since gone on to match her success with Winn-Dixie with a Newbery Award for The Tale of Despereaux about a mouse named Despereaux Tilling. Where does she get her ideas? “Every writer in the world gets asked the question. And the answer is so obvious! We get our ideas from listening and looking and eavesdropping and imagining,” says DiCamillo. “Stories are everywhere. All you have to do is pay attention.” Her advice to those looking to inspire young readers: Make it a gift, not a chore. DiCamillo’s latest novel, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, might be a good place to start.