Minneapolis author DiCamillo named children's literature ambassador

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The Minneapolis-based author of the best-selling children's books "Because of Winn Dixie" and "The Tale of Despereaux" is adding a prestigious new honor to her resume.

The New York Times reports Kate DiCamillo will be named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The job of the ambassador, who is named every two years, is to tour the country to help promote reading.

The official announcement is expected today, and DiCamillo will receive her title at an inauguration ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington Jan. 10.

"Kate DiCamillo is not only one of our finest writers for young people, but also an outstanding advocate for the importance of reading," Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Florida, DiCamillo, 49, moved to Minneapolis when she was 30.

The author said she spent her 20s working jobs at Disney World, Circus World and a campground, but longed to be a writer. So when a friend of DiCamillo's in Florida decided to move home to Minnesota, the then-aspiring author followed along to work on her new career, the Times said.

DiCamillo's first job in Minneapolis was "picker" at a book warehouse, where she sorted – and read – books along the way, according to the paper.

Reporting on DiCamillo's ambassador honor, the Washington Post Thursday lauded the author's nearly 20 books as "stories with heart and humanity, and occasional melancholy," as well as "stories that respect children as intelligent readers, that reflect the world as an occasionally hard but often magical place."

DiCamillo's most recent honor came in September when she was named a top 10 finalist in the Young People’s Literature category by the National Book Foundation for her book "Flora & Ulysses."

Plus, in October, Oscar-winning "Forrest Gump" director Robert Zemeckis announced that he was adapting DiCamillo's 2006 best-seller “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” into a movie.

The author's “Because of Winn Dixie” and the Newbery Medal-winning “The Tale of Despereaux” have already been turned into feature films.

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