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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Inside the Author's Studio with Kate DiCamillo!

Margie O'Brien Reed, Rhode Island PBS host and producer, interviewed Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo, the 2014-15 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

I was so excited to be part of the live studio audience for the taping of Inside the Author's Studio on Friday night at the Rhode Island PBS studios.  Kate DiCamillo is the author of Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (the 2015 Kids Reading Across Rhode Island selection) as well as other well-loved favorites including Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  (And so many others!  Visit for more!)

Behind the scenes!
It was a delightful evening, and the charming DiCamillo had us laughing and nodding along throughout.  We were told that the interview, which ran for about 45 minutes, would be edited down to about 20 minutes and then aired in June.  There's no way to know what will be included in the final presentation, but I'll share some of the details that stayed with me!

* She sets her alarm to write at 5:30am every morning. (If she doesn't do it first thing she'll talk herself out of it throughout the day.) She pours herself a cup of coffee and then sits at a desk that faces a blank wall.

* She only writes two pages a day! (She said that limiting herself to only two pages a day makes writing the next day even easier.  Wow.)

* The idea for using a vacuum cleaner in Flora and Ulysses came from a big, old Electrolux she inherited from her mother.

* She was inspired by an injured squirrel she found out her porch. She wasn't able to help him, so she "saved" the squirrel by creating the character of Ulysses.

* The inspiration for Edward Tulane was a toy rabbit she was given by a friend. It sat on her couch, and then one night she had a dream where she saw that rabbit resting on the bottom of the ocean.  The story grew from there.

* She had the idea for her Mercy Watson series for a long time before the story was ready to be written. The turning point, she said, was the day she was driving a friend to the airport. The car was brand-new, and her friend insisted on eating buttered toast along the way. When Kate protested, the friend proceeded to extol the virtues of buttered toast, emphasizing that it needed LOTS of butter and that it must be applied from edge to edge and so on and so forth. (With this I strongly agree, by the way.) By the time she got to the airport, Kate knew that her newest character was going to have an extreme adoration of toast with "a great deal of butter on it".

* She attributes her love of reading and writing to her mother, who always read aloud to her.  She believes that reading aloud creates a bond between those people.  (With this I also strongly agree!) 

After the taping we were able to meet Kate and get our books inscribed.  The price of admission included a copy of Flora and Ulysses, and I'm excited to display our newly-signed copy in the library this week!  (I know it won't stay there for long!)  To my sheer delight, Kate agreed to record a little video in honor of our second graders, who have been listening to The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane in their classrooms.  I am thrilled to be able to share it here:

My sincerest thanks go out to the lovely and talented Kate DiCamillo, as well as to all the folks who worked to make this wonderful event happen.  It was a joy to be a part of something so special!
Thanks also to my amazing friends and colleagues: Mrs. Barton, Mrs. Reiser-Jones, Mrs. Gaskill, Miss DeVito, Miss Anderson and "Miss Hurley"!  Your support, patience, and encouragement have always been and will continue to be deeply appreciated!  

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