Cover Reveal: The Beatryce Prophecy

Hello, Kate DiCamillo! Hello, Sophie Blackall! I am THRILLED to welcome you both back to Watch. Connect. Read. to celebrate The Beatryce Prophecy.

Kate, a few years ago you inspired me to ask authors what ran through their hearts the first time they saw the cover art for their books. So, here is my question: What ran through your kind, capacious heart the first time you saw two-time Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall’s cover art for The Beatryce Prophecy?

Kate DiCamillo: So much of my journey with this story has been dream-like. As Sophie drew the art for this book and I got to see it, time and time again I had the same reaction: that her renderings of Beatryce and Answelica and Brother Edik and Cannoc and Jack Dory are something that I’ve been looking at my whole life. It’s as if this art, these characters, have always existed. All of which is to say that the first time I saw the cover art, my reaction was: that is exactly as it should be, as it has always been. Does that make sense?

That makes complete sense. Thank you!

Sophie, I am writing these questions at 7:10 PM CST on January 14, 2021. The Beatryce Prophecy’s cover landed in my email inbox at 9:15 AM CST. I immediately saved the image to my phone’s camera roll. Every 10 or 15 minutes, I unlocked my phone to look at the cover. I take in something new each time I admire it. Please take us on a tour of the cover. Maybe start with the red book? :)

Sophie Blackall: Books and stories and reading and writing are essential to Beatryce, as is her friend and protector, Answelica the goat, so I wanted to flank Beatryce with goat and book.

If ever draw a book to represent all books, it is always a red book. I loved old dusty books when I was a child, and the ones with red cloth bindings were usually the fairy tales, or the adventure stories, the ones with pictures.

As I thought about the drawing for this cover, I pored over illuminated manuscripts at the Morgan Library, and revisited Arthur Rackham illustrations on my bookshelves, and went down an internet rabbit hole reading all about William Morris, and asked my friend who breeds Nubians for photographs of her beloved goat called Eustace Tilly. Beatryce’s face arrived on the page and I honestly have no memory of drawing it. It’s as though she just appeared and that was that.

Kate, you shared you have carried Beatryce’s story with you for a long time. When did she first speak to you?

Kate DiCamillo: The first time Beatryce and Answelica showed up was in June of 2009. I wrote the beginning of the story and then I turned to something lighter, funnier (a book about a squirrel superhero), and I actually forgot about the girl and the goat for almost a decade. It wasn’t until I was cleaning out the closet in my office and found the first drafts of the first part of the story that it all came back to me—like a dream you can almost remember, but not quite.

Sophie, what ran through your heart the first time you read two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo’s The Beatryce Prophecy?

Sophie Blackall: When I received the manuscript for The Beatryce Prophecy, I was about to step out the door. Instead, I took off my coat and put down my bag, I switched off my phone and sat on the couch-I-never-find-time-to-sit-on, and read the story from beginning to end with goosebumps on my arms. I almost forgot to breathe.

I felt such a rush of gratitude for this book. Gratitude for all the images I would get to draw (mermaids and seahorses, meadow and moon!) And for Beatryce and Answelica (that goat! those teeth!) and Brother Edik and Cannoc and Jack Dory. For these characters who are so true it seems like they’ve always existed.

Kate, please finish the following sentence starters:

Beatryce and Answelica save each other. It is an extraordinary thing to love and be loved so ferociously.

Empathy is the great, grand gift of story-telling.

Sophie, please finish the following sentence starters:

Brother Edik, Cannoc, and Jack Dory are the friends you didn’t know you were missing, who will stay with you forever once you’ve met them.

Empathy grows from curiosity, and curiosity is one of the best things about being alive.

Look for The Beatryce Prophecy on September 28, 2021. 

Kate DiCamillo is a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature emerita, has won countless awards for her work, has authored ten New York Times bestsellers, and has over 37 million copies in print in over forty languages worldwide. Her books have been adapted globally into four feature films, numerous plays, an opera, and an animated short. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in Florida and now lives in Minneapolis.

Sophie Blackall is the acclaimed illustrator of more than forty-five books for young readers and a two-time Caldecott Medalist. Born and raised in Australia, she now lives in Brooklyn.


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