A 2021 People Magazine Best Books of Fall Winner! From two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo and two-time Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall comes a fantastical meditation on fate, love, and the power of words to spell the world.
We shall all, in the end, be led to where we belong. We shall all, in the end, find our way home.
In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all—for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why.
And so it is that a girl with a head full of stories—powerful tales-within-the-tale of queens and kings, mermaids and wolves—ventures into a dark wood in search of the castle of one who wishes her dead. But Beatryce knows that, should she lose her way, those who love her—a wild-eyed monk, a man who had once been king, a boy with a terrible sword, and a goat with a head as hard as stone—will never give up searching for her, and to know this is to know everything. With its timeless themes, unforgettable cast, and magical medieval setting, Kate DiCamillo’s lyrical tale, paired with resonant black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall, is a true collaboration between masters.---from the publisher
256 pages 978-1536213614 Ages 8-12
Keywords: fantasy and magic, historical fiction, girls and women, reading, goats, belonging, darkness, guardians, royalty, kings, determination, secrets, adventure, love, the power of words, Middle Ages, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, Language Arts Curriculum
Note: If your reader especially loves this book, he/she/they might enjoy FLY BY NIGHT by Frances Hardinge or THE BOOK OF BOY by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
" A child. A child next to the goat." Brother Edik is surprised... maybe shocked.... to see a young girl curled up asleep next to his nemesis, a goat named Answelica. The goat loves to send human beings flying through the air courtesy of a knock out combination of her horns and her hard head. But Answelica is guarding the young girl...something is different here.
The young girl, Beatryce, is anything but ordinary. She stays at the monastery long enough for the monks to discover that she can read and write in a time when no girl...no girl.... is permitted to learn how to read and write. Not only can she read but she is more than likely the girl mentioned in the prophecy. She is the girl wanted by the king. She is the girl who it is said will turn the king off his throne.
Beatryce knows her name. But she can't remember anything else about her life. She doesn't know who she is or was and she doesn't know where she comes from or why she was wandering alone.
We can't know what lies ahead of us. We can only do what we can do when we can do it. So it is with Beatryce and so it is with Jack Dory, a young boy whose parents were murdered by a robber in the forest. Both of these young people have seen the darkness. Both of these young people have lived in the darkness.
What hope can they have? How can they outrun the king's men who are searching the kingdom for the girl of the prophecy? Turns out that when you have a goat of your own many things are possible. Turns out that the power of story and the power of words can carry you through the darkest moments and weeks of your life.
Beatryce is going to have to leave the monastery and flee for her safety. She won't go alone. She'll have her goat and she'll have Jack Dory and she'll meet another fellow along the way. The king's men are at her heels. Can she outrun them?
Our young people face all kinds of darkness in their lives. They have days when hope doesn't show up for them. This is a story about light. This is a story about hope. This is a story about how the power of reading can save a life and the power of story can be enough to keep you going ...just a few more steps and just a few more days.
Kate DiCamillo sprinkles light into the darkest moments of her stories. She knows...oh she knows...that we need that light. We need something to hold onto. We need something to tell us we can keep going and we will come out of the darkness into the light. She also knows the miracle of books. She writes us miracles. She writes us hope. She shows us she sees and she understands how hard life can be...it's as though her own life has had some darkness too. She wants us to know the light is real.
Beatryce holds onto story. Beatryce holds on to her power.
This is a brilliant classic with the power to save lives.
Long live Answelica. Hooray for goats! We all need our own goat ----looking at us with that unconditional love - knowing us from the inside out---believing in us. Thank you Kate.
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com