Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Educational Books and Media Association: Kate DiCamillo

By January 15, 2018May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog




The Educational Book and Media Association (EBMA) awarded Kate DiCamillo the 2017 Jeremiah Ludington Award. The award, named after EBMA’s founder, is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the educational book business. Past winners include Ashley Bryan, David Wiesner, Brian Selznick, Russell Friedman, Jon Scieszka, Kevin Henkes, Sharon Draper, and Pam Muñoz Ryan.

When she accepted the award last week at the conference, Kate spoke about her work and what it was like to be a fearful introverted child.

On January 12, 2017 Time Magazine published this essay by Kate DiCamillo titled Why Children’s Books Should Be a Little Sad

She wrote, 

“I think our job is to trust our readers. I think our job is to see and to let ourselves be seen. I think our job is to love the world.”

It is in the form of a letter to Matt de la Peña in response to his question, “How honest can an author be with an auditorium full of elementary school kids? How honest should we be with our readers? Is the job of the writer for the very young to tell the truth or preserve innocence?”

Read the essay. It is brilliant. 

I am responding to a different question. How can you give those sad Kate DiCamillo titles to children?

Dear Parent,

Dear Teacher,

Dear Librarian,

Easily. With joy. With enthusiasm.   


I remember what it is like to be a 10-year-old and feel all alone in my shameful thoughts and my big feelings.

Kate DiCamillo welcomes readers into a very real world of anxiety, fear, and despair. Kate DiCamillo never leaves the reader in that valley. DiCamillo brings us courageously to the other side of fear to a place of hope, of wonder, of peace without lying, without placating, and without condescension. 

Children and young adults recognize that she is a storyteller who is a kindred spirit. DiCamillo is able to really see the hard work of growing up and extend her hand in recognition and friendship. 

We should all be lucky enough to have a peer, a parent, a teacher, or a librarian who will hand us one of her titles. Yes, even the really, really sad ones.

A Review:  Barnes and Noble Review,  Magician’s Elephant

What kind of children’s book can make a grown man cry? This one.

When I asked what made my friend Matt cry, I was told by his wife, “Well, it was the part when…” No, not when, what? Why? Why this story? “Well it’s about forgiveness, it’s about redemption.” Wait a minute…I thought it was about hope. It is.

If there is a DiCamillo signature style it is that she trusts the reader to find the story, to make their own meaning. She came out of the gate a champion, garnering a Newbery Honor for her first book Because of Winn Dixie. The Tale of Despereaux won the Newbery Medal, the highest award in children’s fiction. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane was a National Book Award finalist and stirred up quite a controversy in children’s literature circles because of its main character, a self-centered china rabbit on a downward spiral.

Read more here

Magician’s Elephant 

A Bibliography

Feel free to give them a sadness rating but don’t forget to rate the hope. Scale of 1 to 5. Five being the most sad and most hope. 


Because of Winn-Dixie (2000) S rating 5 (when Winn Dixie gets lost) H rating 5 (Read the book.

The Tiger Rising (2001)

The Tale of Despereaux (2003), illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (2006), illus. Bagram Ibatoulline

The Magician’s Elephant (2009), illus. Yoko Tanaka

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (2013), illus. K. G. Campbell

Raymie Nightingale (Candlewick Press, April 12, 2016)

Chapter books 

Bink & Gollie series, text by DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illus. Tony Fucile

Bink & Gollie (2010)

Bink & Gollie: Two for One (2012)

Bink & Gollie: Best Friends Forever (2013)

Mercy Watson series (Candlewick Press), text by DiCamillo, illus. Chris Van Dusen

Mercy Watson to the Rescue (2005)

Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride (2006)

Mercy Watson Fights Crime (2006)

Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise (2007)

Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig (2008)

Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes (2009)

Picture books 

Great Joy (2007), illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken (2008) illustrated by Harry Bliss

La La La: A Story of Hope (2017) illustrated by Jaime Kim

Video of Kate DiCamillo and illustrator Jaime Kim



Leave a Reply

© 2024 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
Privacy Statement | Acceptable Use of IT Resources