Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo

Title: The Beatryce Prophecy
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Publication: Candlewick Press, hardcover, 2021
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy
Description: Brother Edik belongs to the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing and, although a timid fellow, he has the gift of prophecy and has predicted that a king will be deposed by a girl. However, when he finds a girl curled up with the Order’s cantankerous goal, Answelica, he little suspects she is a child of destiny. He is more concerned lest the goat attack her and when he realizes she has amnesia and is sought by evil men, he disguises her and nurses her through fever and trauma. As Beatryce recovers her memory and realizes she is the sole survivor of an attack by the king’s men, she is determined not to hide but to confront the usurper king. Accompanied by the goat, the monk, orphaned Jack Dory, and Cannoc, a rugged forest-dweller, Beatryce sets forth on a dangerous mission.

My Impression: The Beatryce Prophecy was this month’s choice for the de Grummond Book Group and was a lighthearted change from the more serious titles we have read recently. Some of the humor is provided by the goat that had terrorized the monastery until Beatryce appeared. This is more of a fable about friendship and courage, with a heroine who seems fragile but possesses an inner strength that impresses her companions:
It is written in the Chronicles of Sorrowing that one day there will come a child who will unseat a king.

The prophecy states that this child will be a girl.

Because of this, the prophecy has long been ignored.
One of the clues that Beatryce is no ordinary child is that she can read and write. Brother Edik warns her that there is a law in their world that states no girl or woman is allowed to be literate and that she must pretend to be something she is not (Beatryce is not very good at this, so it is lucky she doesn’t linger at the monastery where the king’s men will make a second attempt on her life).  I found the illustrations were mostly appealing but I did not like the cover -  I think Beatryce's shaved head might have prevented me from picking this up as a child although I appreciate Brother Edik had to disguise her.  I guess I am shallow and prefer my princesses less bald.  However, I would not hesitate to recommend it to ten-year-old me who liked fantasy or her modern-day equivalent when I am at the library.

Kate DiCamillo is an author who delivers memorable stories in any genre she chooses, whether realistic fiction like Because of Winn-Dixie, the early chapter books about Mercy Watson (some pig! oh, wait, that's another story), or fantasies like this book. I met her once at a Barnes & Noble Managers meeting in Florida where publishers like me had been summoned to talk about our big forthcoming books.  She autographed a copy of The Tale of Despereaux for me and we talked about Betsy-Tacy (she had met my friend Kathy Baxter and is a fan).  However, this story, while pleasant, lacked a certain something that I require in a book to fully capture my imagination.  I never forgot that I was reading and, if you think about it, what separates an outstanding from a merely good book is its capacity to transport the reader to another world.  

Source: Library

1 comment:

TracyK said...

I am not sure I would pick this book, but you have convinced me that I should try something by DiCamillo.