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Five questions for Kate DiCamillo

Fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale will remember Louisiana Elefante as the perceptive friend (and orphaned daughter of trapeze artists) who reassures the others: “We’ll rescue each other.” In companion book Louisiana’s Way Home (both Candlewick, 8–11 years), it seems that Louisiana may need rescuing — from the “care” of her grandmother who takes her away to a motel in Georgia and then splits.

1. Did you know from the start that Raymie Nightingale would have a companion book?

KD: No! The thought never even crossed my mind — truly. But Louisiana had a different plan, it seems.

2. This book is written in first person while Raymie was in third person. What was it about Louisiana’s story that made this choice feel right?

KD: I was very hesitant to write the story in first person. First-person narratives are really tricky. I began by trying to write it in third person, and it seemed false somehow. So I gave myself over to Louisiana, and I let her complicated, funny, strong-to-the-point-of-overbearing voice tell the whole thing. It was like Louisiana herself wouldn’t let it be any other way. She had plans (see above).

3. Louisiana’s granny is a complicated character, to say the least. How do you feel about her?

KD: I feel frustrated (and sometimes enraged) by her. But I also feel grateful for her, for what she gave Louisiana. And like Louisiana, I was finally able to forgive her.

4. The book’s ending is bittersweet. Did you think about ending it a different way?

KD: You mean just a flat-out happily-ever-after ending? I don’t know — I think all endings are bittersweet.

5. Can we look forward to a third book, about “hard-as-nails Beverly Tapinski”?

KD: Ha! Hard-as-nails Beverly Tapinski has something to say, too. So: yes, you can.

From the October 2018 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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