At the risk of jinxing it, Kate DiCamillo is on a lucky streak. After being named as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature (2014-2015), Camillo snagged her second Newbery Medal, for her hilarious and heartwarming middle grade novel, Flora & Ulysses. It's the story of a cynical 10-year-old girl who learns a thing or two when she befriends a super-strong, poetry-writing squirrel—who flies. Our reviewer loved it: "Like all of DiCamillo’s books, Flora & Ulysses is filled with adventure, but also plenty of humor and soul." We asked DiCamillo a few questions after she heard the news.
What was the first thing that went through your head when you found out you had won the Newbery?
I couldn’t form a coherent thought, truly. All I could do was cry.
Who was the one person you couldn’t wait to tell about the award?
I am lucky in that I have so many people that I couldn’t wait to tell. I’ve got a close group of friends who are like my family. I couldn’t wait to tell them. I couldn’t wait to talk to my agent, my editor, my publisher and all the people I work with at Candlewick. I couldn’t wait to tell my brother, and my writing teacher, Jane Resh Thomas.
Do you have a favorite past Newbery winner?
Oh, I love so many of them for so many different reasons. But off the top of my 8-year-old head? Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell.
What’s the best part of writing books for a younger audience?
That I get to write possibilities, instead of impossibilities.
What kind of reaction have you gotten from your readers about this book?
I’ve just started to get letters from kids about the book. Each letter thrills me. One 10-year-old girl says that she and her father always say goodbye to each other with, “I promise to always turn back toward you.”
Have you read or listened to past Newbery acceptance speeches? Are you excited (or worried!) about your own speech?
I am, of course, worried. But excited, too, because it will give me a chance to try and express my deep gratitude, my joy.
What’s next for you?
Um, let’s see. I’m working on a novel. And I’m launching a series of books about some of the secondary characters from the Mercy Watson stories. The first one of those comes out this fall. It is called Leroy Ninker Saddles Up.