Elem./MG – The Beatryce Prophecy

DiCamillo, Kate. The Beatryce Prophecy.Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Candlewick Press, 2021. 978-1-536-21361-4. $19.99. 247 p. Grades 3-8.

“There will one day come a girl child who will unseat a king and bring about a great change,” reads the fearsome prophecy which the reader soon discovers is The Beatryce Prophecy. This magical story involves a bald, brave girl in monk’s robes; a gentle monk named Brother Edik who hands out maple candies; a slip of a boy, Jack Dory, orphaned by thieves and nurtured by an old woman—now deceased—Granny Bibspeak; a laughing, runaway king, Cannoc; and a wayward, stubborn but loyal goat, Answelica. Brother Edik comes upon a sickly Beatryce with her goat companion and nurses the girl back to health. He well knows the prophecy and when he discovers Beatryce can read and write, thanks to the foresight of her parents, he protects her by shaving her locks and disguising her as a monk. Twelve-year-old Jack Dory gets dispensed to the Brothers of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing to fetch a monk who can record the last words of a dying soldier and returns with Beatryce and Answelica with the strong directive from the monastery’s abbot not to return. Beatryce, though, cannot stomach the soldier’s confession and abandons the task. She and Jack Dory find themselves in the dangerous dark forest where they meet the jovial Cannoc who eventually tells them he once walked away from the gruesome responsibility of being the king. They seek safety from the king who threatens Beatryce’s life in Cannoc’s cozy tree- trunk home and are soon joined by Brother Edik. When Beatryce is abducted, the remaining four (the goat is included) vow to rescue her. A proverb comes to mind, Pride goes before a fall. The foolish king and his sinister counselor choose murder and lies to soothe their fragile pride: They cannot accept that a girl can read and write at a time when, as Brother Edik tell her, “Only men of God can read, and the king. And tutors and counselors. The people do not know their letters” (140). At its root, The Beatryce Prophecy is a simple good vs. evil story. But simply written it is not. Can any other author repeat a phrase or line with more meaning than Kate DiCamillo? DiCamillo illuminates this unenlightened world with characters who radiate kindness, goodness, and joy. They also turn out to be the strong ones. Perhaps The Beatryce Prophecy is a feminist story, but it is also a story of courage and friendship. In the capable hands of this author, the reader is ever more convinced that what makes the difference in people’s lives is love. . .and stories.

THOUGHTS: As a vehicle for teaching language and imagery, an example of characterization and plot development, The Beatryce Prophecy is a key tool. The story sweeps you up and the words envelope you. A good read aloud.

Historical Fiction          Bernadette Cooke  SD Philadelphia

We’re Back…Time for some 2017! Elementary/MS Series Fiction – You Choose; Sleuths of Somerville; Dark Waters

You Choose: Haunted Places. Capstone, 2017. 112pp. $23.99 ea. Gr. 3-7.

Chandler, Matt. Alcatraz. 978-1-5157-2580-0.

Doeden, Matt. The Queen Mary. 978-1-5157-2578-7.

Alcatraz contains 42 choices and 15 endings while The Queen Mary contains 33 choices and 14 endings. The other books in this set are Tower of London and The Winchester Mystery House. A reading of Alcatraz may find readers wanting to learn more about The Warden’s House, “Machine Gun” Kelly, Al Capone, Robert Stroud, “The Birdman,” escape attempts, and tourism of the island.  Topics including the roles in history that boats played, the reported hauntings, and various locations on a ship can be obtained in readings of The Queen Mary.  Throughout the books, primary source photographs and diagrams are included. The epilogue details the locations and significances in history. Following the epilogue readers have a  detailed timeline, a glossary questions to explore, suggestions to read more and Facthound information to continue researching the topic.  THOUGHTS: At our library we already have numerous books from the You Choose series. Students enjoy these books and often ask if there is a reading test to go along the book. Since there are multiple choices and/or possible ending possibilities, I ask the students how the test questions would be answered. They understand the unique reading experience in these books is highly engaging, but not best measured with a test.

Action/Adventure      Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District


Jakubowski,Michele. The Sleuths of Somerville. Stone Arch, 2017. 978-1-4965-3207-7. 144pp. $18.99 ea. Gr. 4-6.

Mick’s Buried Treasure. 978-1-4965-3178-0.

Secrets in Somerville. 978-1-4965-3175-9.

These books are fast paced. In Secrets in Somerville, the main character children yearn for excitement one might experience in a large city.  Jace and Evie walk into the diner as new residents to Somerville and that is unexpected. Even more unusual is that they will be living in the old Potter house. Excitement builds when a resident’s dog, Rex, is missing. The novel Mick’s Buried Treasure begins in a hot September. The town has a resurgence of community pride after connection to Lincoln is unearthed. When the friends overhear the kindness of Mick and his buried treasure, they are off on a quest to solve the mystery first placing clues together.  Jace is going to learn more about his family and the strength of friends.  THOUGHTS:  Mystery fans will gravitate towards this fast paced series. The books contain a glossary in addition to questions for discussion and writing, which can also be used as a teaching tool.

Mystery     Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District


Gilbert, Julie. Dark Waters: Into the Storm A Mermaid’s Journey. Stone Arch, 2017. 978-1-4965-4171-0. $25.99. 155pp. Gr. 5-8.

India Finch didn’t know about her “mer” heritage until spending the summer with her grandfather. Growing up biracial has been difficult for India, but this new information is still difficult for her to process. With the threat of a hurricane, India wants to warn the mer. The Pizza Plus worker is actually the sea witch who has a past with India’s father. While warning the mer of the plan of the sea witch, India saves Evan, her crush, underwater with CPR. There is an epic battle.What happened with her father all of those years ago?  This book also contains full colored artwork, a glossary, and discussion and writing questions. There are currently three other books in the series: Fire and Ice: A Mermaid’s Journey, Neptune’s Trident: A Mermaid’s Journey, and The Sighting: A Mermaid’s Journey.  THOUGHTS:  Currently there are three other books in the series: Fire and Ice: A Mermaid’s Journey, Neptune’s Trident: A Mermaid’s Journey, and The Sighting: A Mermaid’s Journey. Dark Waters is ideal for students that enjoy Donnelly’s Deep Blue series and  Tera Lynn Childs Forgive My Fins.

Fantasy, Action/Adventure     Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District