In a return to the fantasy genre of her Newbery Medal-winning The Tale of Despereaux, author Kate DiCamillo spins the tale of a young girl named Beatryce, who is discovered in a monastery barn in the company of an unlikely source of comfort: a frighteningly ornery goat named Answelica.
Feverish and crying, Beatryce is found by a kindhearted monk named Brother Edik, who has foretold that a child “will unseat a king.” Because the prophecy specifies that the child will be a girl, the message “has long been ignored.” So begins the marvelous story of Beatryce, Answelica, Brother Edik and Jack Dory, a lively and illiterate orphan. Brother Edik learns that Beatryce’s mother taught her to read and write, a rarity at a time when even boys aren’t often taught such skills. Meanwhile, the king and his henchmen are trying to track down Beatryce. The story quickly becomes a suspenseful, fast-moving tale of female empowerment and an ode to the written word and the power of love, all told in DiCamillo’s signature heartfelt style.
DiCamillo is often at her best when writing about animals, and Answelica is an unforgettable wonder as memorable as Winn-Dixie the dog and Ulysses the squirrel. In the beautifully spare prose that has become one of her hallmarks, DiCamillo poses big questions, such as “What does it mean to be brave?” and invites readers to discover their own answers. The Beatryce Prophecy is full of dark forces, but hope and love prevail, and Beatryce comes to understand that the world is “filled with marvel upon marvel, too many marvels to ever count.”
Two-time Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall brings DiCamillo’s ragtag band of characters to life in joyful, energetic black-and-white illustrations. She establishes the powerful bond between Beatryce and Answelica from the start in a radiant mangerlike scene that wouldn’t be out of place on a holiday greeting card. The book’s medieval atmosphere is underscored by a series of illuminated letters that begin each chapter, and additional decorative flourishes throughout remind readers that this is indeed a special tale with a distinctive setting.
The Beatryce Prophecy is certain to be cherished. “What does, then, change the world?” DiCamillo’s omniscient narrator asks. The answer is as masterful as DiCamillo and Blackall’s creation: “Love, and also stories.”