DiCamillo, who lives in Minneapolis, will serve a two-year term in which she will “raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.”
DiCamillo is the fourth author to serve as ambassador; she is preceded by Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson and Walter Dean Myers.
Ms. DiCamillo is already a star of the children’s publishing world, a winner of the Newbery Medal and a reliable best seller. She writes fluidly across genres and age groups, from picture books to chapter books, experimenting with themes of loss, parental absence and spiritual redemption.
By her own account, she came to writing books in a meandering way. Born in Philadelphia but raised in Florida, she spent her 20s working jobs at Disney World, Circus World and a campground, harboring secret ambitions to be an author.
“I was in one of those terrible ruts,” Ms. DiCamillo, now 49, said in a telephone interview from her home in Minneapolis. “I wanted to write, and I wasn’t writing. And I finally decided that when I turned 30, I was going to write something.”
One of her best friends was planning to move back to her hometown, Minneapolis. Ms. DiCamillo, feeling impulsive, decided to tag along.
“I had no winter coat and no job,” she said. “I had turned 30, so I moved. It was the best thing I ever did.”
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