Kate DiCamillo's Biography

About Kate DiCamillo

The author talks about dressing up her dog, becoming a writer, and why she wrote her first book, Because of Winn-Dixie:

When I was 5 years old, I moved with my mother and brother from Philadelphia to a small town in Florida. People talked more slowly there and said words I had never heard before, like "ain't" and "y'all" and "ma'am." Everybody knew everybody else. Even if they didn't, they acted like they did. It was all so different from what I had known before, and I fell swiftly and madly in love.

I also grew up with a dog I loved — a black standard poodle named Nanette. I spent a lot of time dressing Nanette up — in a green ballet tutu and then later like a disco dancer. She was a wonderful, very accommodating dog.

I was a very sickly kid, and suffered from chronic pneumonia, which is why we moved to the warm southern climate. I think being ill contributed to my development as a writer. I learned early on to entertain myself by reading. I learned to rely on stories as a way of understanding the world. I read everything I could, and some of my favorites were The Twenty-One Balloons, The Secret Garden, The Yearling, Ribsy, and a book called Somebody Else's Shoes.

I wrote Because of Winn-Dixie because I was homesick for Florida (I live in Minneapolis) and because I wanted a dog and couldn't have one (I lived in an apartment building that didn't permit them). It allowed me to go home and to spend time with a dog of the highest order. As for the other characters, I never know where they come from; I just feel happy and lucky when they choose me to tell their stories. India Opal Buloni seems so real to me, I don't think I could have made her up. Rather, I feel like I discovered her.


Kate DiCamillo is the author of Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tiger Rising, and the 2004 Newbery winner, The Tale of Desperaux.


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