The Beatryce Prophecy

Written by Kate DiCamillo Sophie Blackall (illus.)
Review by Xina Marie Uhl

Author Kate DiCamillo is a two-time winner of the Newbery Medal, and the illustrator has won a similar number of Caldecott medals, so when you pick up this whimsical novel you can be sure it is of the highest quality.

Set in quasi-medieval times, the story opens in a monastery where the stubborn goat Answelica delights in bucking anyone within range. One night, a gentle monk finds a young girl hiding in a stall, cuddled next to the formidable Answelica. The brothers nurse her back to health, except for locked-away memories, and make a startling discovery about her: She can read, unlike every other female in the land. Soon it becomes evident that she is the subject of a prophecy that bodes ill for the king and that has put her on the run as a traumatized amnesiac. With a motley cast of friends and helpers, she travels toward her destiny.

DiCamillo’s voice as an author is delightful and resembles that of a fairy tale. Her descriptions are unusual and vivid. One small example is this paragraph:

She took the seahorse from his hand. It was light, so light that it felt as if she were holding someone else’s dream cupped in her hand.

The book’s characters are unusual but distinctive, and the journey they go on forges the relationships between them as they each come to their own resolution. With its superficial treatment of the medieval era, this is not a book to read for its history. Instead, it’s one to read for sheer enjoyment and the kind of sweetness and innocence that permeates childhood.