Kate DiCamillo (text) and Sophie Blackall (illustrator), The Beatryce Prophecy, Walker Books, October 2021, 256 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781529500899
The ominous brotherhood, the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing find a young girl, Beatryce, sheltering in their monastery. With a grouchy guardian goat as a companion, no one is sure what to do. DiCamillo’s narrative sweeps readers into a thrilling tale of dark forests, folly, fate, friendship and the power of literacy and stories.
Beatryce must flee in a cruel world at war, where people are afraid of demons and ghosts. Those who help Beatryce are at odds, scared for their own lives and souls by protecting Beatryce’s secret.
Beautiful black and white illustrations by Sophie Blackall illuminate Beatryce and the funny and brave Answelica, creating the impression of a medieval manuscript. In addition to its historic appeal, anyone who has found themselves adopted by a capricious goat will appreciate Answelica.
The Beatryce Prophecy is such a sublime tale because of DiCamillo’s capacity to write so lyrically and philosophically. The story can be linked to modern global issues about the education of young girls, and the injustice and cruelty driven by belief, ignorance, and reluctance for change. The publisher’s site has a teacher’s guide.
With an alt-medieval timeline, The Beatryce Prophecy is a highly recommended read for children aged 8 -12, and anyone who loves a story that journeys into folklore.
Reviewed by Angela Brown