Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Words: The Beatryce Prophecy

Kate DiCamillo has given us many wonderful books.  Because of Winn Dixie, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Tale of Despereaux are among them.  I just finished The Beatryce Prophecy and, once again, DiCamillo delivers.

The Beatryce Prophecy is a Medieval, fairytale-esque story of a young girl who is prophesied to “unseat a king and bring about a great change” — a child who can read and write (a dangerous thing for a girl).  Beatryce has a great purpose.  Her journey involves hiding out in a monastery, fleeing the king’s men, finding brave and loyal friends (including a fearsome goat), facing danger head on, and realizing the power of stories.  There’s darkness and light, brutality and kindness, sorrow and joy.  It’s a marvelous tale.

But, as a lover of words, I am most taken with DiCamillo’s command of the language.  It’s what sets her apart — how she pieces words together in ways that create beautiful, piercing, thought-provoking sentences.  She manages to be profound — to reveal life’s truths — yet keeps it artfully, indeed deceptively, simple. 

Here are some examples, keeping in mind they are even more powerful in context:


       . . . shouldn’t home be the place where you are allowed to be yourself, loved as yourself?


       “Nothing is more terrifying to evil than joy.”


       “Each letter has a shape,” Beatryce said, “And each letter has a sound. And you put these shapes and sounds together, and they become words. Do you understand?”
       “Aye,” he said to her.  His heart was beating fast. He did not know—he had not understood—how much he wanted it, to know this secret of letters and sounds and words.
       He watched the letters appear one by one beneath her hand, and he felt as if each letter were a door pushed open inside of him, a door that led to a lighted room. “The world,” said Beatryce to Jack Dory, “can be spelled.”


And with Christmas upon us, this last quote, holds special meaning:


       What does, then, change the world?
       . . . “Love.”
       Love, and also stories.


So, as I have encouraged in the past, share stories with loved ones and, as DiCamillo offers, change the world with love, and also stories.

I hope you all had as happy a Thanksgiving as I did.

Merry Christmas, my friends.