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Kate DiCamillo On Childhood Beauty Pageants, Reading, & Growing Up In Clermont

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Kate DiCamillo. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

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Award winning author Kate DiCamillo returns to Central Florida and her past as a childhood beauty pageant contestant in her latest novel Raymie Nightingale.

The novel’s 10 year old hero, Raymie Clarke, enters the Little Miss Central Florida Tire contest in an attempt to reconnect with her missing father.

DiCamillo, who now lives in Minneapolis, said she has a clear memory of standing on the stage of the ‘Little Miss Orange Blossom’ contest as a child and thinking “Wow, I shouldn’t be here.”

“My Mom has passed away, so I can’t ask why she put me in that contest,  because if there was anybody who should not have been in a Little Miss Orange Blossom Contest, it was me,” said DiCamillo.

Growing up, DiCamillo said she read everything she could.

“I read my way through the school library, the public library. My mother was spectacular about buying me books, reading to me, taking me to the library,” she said.

“I needed every book I could get my hands on- it felt like a physical need,” said DiCamillo.

DiCamillo said she spent so much time at the public library in Clermont, the librarians waived the four book maximum check out.

“So not only did I love that library and the books in it, it was also a place where I felt seen, and it really mattered,” said DiCamillo.

“I think that libraries matter more now than ever, as safe places, as community places,” she said.


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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of earthquakes, criminal trials and rugby ... Read Full Bio »