The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillio

The Beatryce Prophecy

Kate DiCamillo, Author

Sophie Blackall, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Sep. 28, 2021

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes:  Girl, Goat, Monk, King, Prophesy, Medieval, Folktale, Love, Friendships  

Publisher’s Synopsis:

In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all—for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why.

And so it is that a girl with a head full of stories—powerful tales-within-the-tale of queens and kings, mermaids and wolves—ventures into a dark wood in search of the castle of one who wishes her dead. But Beatryce knows that, should she lose her way, those who love her—a wild-eyed monk, a man who had once been king, a boy with a terrible sword, and a goat with a head as hard as stone—will never give up searching for her, and to know this is to know everything. With its timeless themes, unforgettable cast, and magical medieval setting, Kate DiCamillo’s lyrical tale, paired with resonant black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall, is a true collaboration between masters.

We shall all, in the end, be led to where we belong. We shall all, in the end, find our way home.

Why I like this book:

The Beatryce Prophecy is an engaging medieval folktale and adventure that is exquisitely imagined by Kate DiCamillo. Her language is lyrical and her powerful storytelling will captivate the hearts of readers. The fast-paced plot is packed with tension, yet offset by the right amount of humor. It is a very special book that is soulful and moving.  

Captivating and lovable main characters are pitted against an evil king. Beatryce is a girl who can read and write, which is forbidden in the kingdom. She has suffered a trauma that is so terrible that she has tucked the memory away. She only knows her name. She’s smart, clever and wise beyond her years. Brother Edik is a monk in the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing who sees beauty everywhere and paints that beauty into his letters, despite a war and violence that surrounds the kingdom. He is a compassionate soul who is the ideal protector for Beatryce along with the strong and playful goat, Answelica, who can send the monks flying with a single butt. But the goat loves Beatryce and appears to communicate with her in a way that only the two understand. A brave orphan boy, Jack Dory, becomes her friend and helps Beatrice escape when the king’s soldiers search the kingdom for the “girl in the prophecy.” Jack, Answelica and Beatrice embark upon a dangerous journey to confront the king and find her mother. 

The Beatryce Propheccy is divided into “six books” with very short chapters, making this fable a perfect bedtime read for younger children. Each chapter begins with an ornately designed letter, much in the style of Brother Edik’s luminous letters. Sophie Blackall’s beautiful black-and-white illustrations pull readers into this medieval adventure and give readers a peek at Beatryce’s world. Verdict: This timeless fable will become a favorite among readers.

Kate DiCamillo is the author of Because of Winn Dixie, The Tiger Rising, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Tale of Despereaux, The Magician’s Elephant, Flora & Ulysses, and the Raymie Nightingale series. She also is the author of the chapter books series Mercy Watson and the Tales from Deckwoo Drive. A former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, she lives in Minneapolis.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

I Am A Bird by Hope Lim

 

I Am A Bird

Hope Lim, author

Hyewon Yum, illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Feb. 2, 2021

Suitable for ages: 3-7

Themes: Girl, Father, Bike ride, Stranger, First impressions, Judgement, Embracing similarities

Opening: “I am a bird. Every morning I fly like a bird on Daddy’s bike. “

Synopsis:

I am a bird. Ca-caw!  Ca-caw!

Each morning, a little girl and her dad ride their bike to school.  As they twist and turn through the city streets, the little girl sings her bird song for all to hear. But when the girl sees the strange woman in blue carrying her mysterious bag, she goes quiet until the woman is out of sight.

One day, when the little girl and her dad are running late, the girl discovers what the woman in blue does with her bag each morning. The surprising revelation transforms the girl’s fear of the stranger into a kinship to be celebrated.

Why I like this book:

Hope Lim’s heartfelt story has a big message for young children about first impressions. From the booster seat of her dad’s bike, the little girl flaps her arms and pretends she is flying. She sings to the birds and waves to the neighbors. But when she passes a women in blue, the little girl feels uneasy about her. The woman doesn’t smile or wave like the other neighbors. The girl wonders what she’s up to.  And remarks, “Daddy, I don’t like her.” The story encourages readers to look beyond their fear and differences and finds similarities.

Hyewon Yum’s colored pencil and gouache illustrations capture the beauty of a coastal town and the girls’ uneasiness. Yum’s depiction of the girl’s body language is priceless as she shows the little girl’s tight grip on her father’s shirt tales or hugging his back as they ride past the woman.  There is worry is in the girl’s eyes. Yum also shows the joy on the girl’s face when she finally discovers what the woman does everyday.  How quick we are to judge, make assumptions about people we see on the street.

Resources: Take a walk through a park with your child and talk about the people you pass along the way. Without judgement, try to imagine something positive about the people you pass. We are all so very different and it is our differences that make life interesting. Teachers may want to talk about differences and ask each child to say something about themselves that others don’t know.

Hope Lim is a debut children’s book author with a BA in English literature as well as an MA in conference interpretation. She got the idea for this book form her reactions to seeing a stranger in the park on her daily runs, then combined that idea with the joyful birdcalls her daughter made while biking to school with her father. Born and raised in South Korea, Hope Lim now lives with her family in San Francisco.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.