Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo


Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

Just before Christmas, an organ grinder and his monkey appear on the street corner outside Frances' apartment. Frances can see them from her window and, sometimes, when it's quiet, she can hear their music. She can't stop thinking about them, especially after she sees the man and his monkey sleeping outside on the cold street at midnight. Even when it is her turn to speak in the Christmas play, all she can think about is the organ grinder's sad eyes. Everyone is silent until Frances finds the perfect words to share, just in time.

About the Author

Kate DiCamillo

As a child

Kate was often ill as a child. She says, “You name it, I got it. Pneumonia, impetigo, pink eye, scarlet fever, mumps, measles, chicken pox. And because I got it, I missed a lot of school and spent a lot of time at home by myself. I am grateful for all that illness. Because I was alone for so much of the day, I learnt to entertain myself. I lived in my imagination. And I lived in books. For a writer, it was an excellent beginning.”

As an adult

Kate studied English at the University of Florida, and then worked on a whole series of very different jobs. She says, “I worked at Walt Disney World (telling people to watch their step), I sold tickets at Circus World (I did not have to dress like a clown), I called bingo at a campground, and grew plants in a greenhouse. I cleaned bathrooms (I wasn’t very good at it) and sold advertising (I was even worse at that).” But all the while Kate she knew that what she really wanted to do was write.

As an artist

When Kate was almost thirty years old, she had what she calls “a small epiphany: if I wanted to tell stories, I was going to have to do the hard work of sitting down and writing them. I started to write. For six years I wrote and wrote and wrote. And most of what I wrote was bad. But here is the beautiful thing about doing something every day; you are bound to get better. And this is true, even for someone as dense as me.” When Kate was thirty-five years old, she sold her first short story, This is Me, Lona Bretweiser, Leaving the Amusement Park of Love. That same year, she sold her first novel, Because of Winn-Dixie. “Now,” Kate says, “I feel as if I have been extraordinarily blessed; I tell stories for a living.” Kate's The Tale of Despereaux won the prestigious Newbery Medal in 2004.

Things you didn't know about Kate DiCamillo

She doesn’t know how to cook. She refuses to learn how to cook. She loves to eat. She is an aunt to a dog named Henry. He is not a good dog. She is a neat freak. Her favourite movie is Planes, Trains and Automobiles. She wanted to be a vet when she grew up. She has never grown up. She used to dress up her poodle, Nanette, as a disco dancer. When unobserved, she likes to dress the aforementioned Henry up in strange outfits.

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Book Info


40 pages
Interest Age: 3+


Kate DiCamillo
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Author's Website


Publication date

5th November 2007



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