We also read DiCamillo's The Tiger Rising, which is peopled with believable characters and a very credible tiger. DiCamillo writes of the terrors of childhood — cruel bullies, the death of a mother — without sensationalism. She also paints unsentimental pictures of the sweetness of parent-child interactions and true friends. She respects young people, writing of her hero, Rob, "He must, he realized, know somewhere, deep inside him, more things than he had ever dreamed of."
DiCamillo's newest, Mercy Watson to the Rescue, unlike her first three books, is aimed at younger children, the just-beginning-to-read set. Its hero is a lovable pig who, like children, causes havoc, but she also saves the day.
DiCamillo first published in 2000, and so none of us who are parents now were raised on her books. But it's a pretty safe bet that someday our kids will be reading her books to their kids.
Kate DiCamillo is at Nicola's Books on Friday, October 28.
[Review published October 2005]