Category Archives: This Day in History

Happy Birthday Children’s Author Kate DiCamillo

Today, March 25, in 1964, Kate DiCamillo was introduced to the world in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now living in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the age of 51, Kate is the author of various children’s novels, picture books, and early chapter books. Quite a few of her works have earned literary awards, as well.

Children's Literature

Photo Credit: Candlewick Press

Because of Winn-Dixie

DiCamillo’s children’s novel Because of Winn-Dixie has blossomed since its publication in 2000. It received the 2001 Newberry Honor and was later made into a film for the big screen that was released in 2005.

The film stars AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bridge to Terabithia) as ten-year-old Opal and actor Jeff Daniels as her father who is also a preacher. Although I have never read the book, I did see the film a few years back and can say with confidence that it is quite a heartwarming tale of a young girl adapting to new surroundings and trying to rebuild a dwindling relationship with her father.

The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux was published in 2003 and then received the Newberry Award in 2004. DiCamillo’s novel was transformed into a film adaptation in 2008.

The film adaptation features various famous voices. Matthew Broderick plays the voice of Despereaux, while Dustin Hoffman assumes the role of Roscuro. Other voices include Harry Potter cast members Emma Watson as Princess Pea and Robbie Coltrane as Gregory. The man who plays everybody’s favorite scientist in Back to the Future, Christopher Lloyd, voices the character Hovis in The Tale of Despereaux.

View all of DiCamillo’s children’s novels and their accompanying awards here.

Early Chapter Books

Kate DiCamillo’s early chapter books include the Mercy Watson series, featuring the 2007 Giesel Honor book Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, and the Bink and Gollie series. Currently, there are six Mercy Watson books and three Bink and Gollie books.

Her newest addition to the collection of early chapter books was published in August 2014 and is titled, Leroy Ninker Saddles Up.

Kate DiCamillo is currently the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, appointed by the Library of Congress.

Congratulations on your astounding achievements thus far, Kate. We look forward to your next great literary adventure!

*Information obtained from Kate DiCamillo’s official website. and Internet Movie Database.


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Happy Birthday, Shakespeare!

Dear Friend,

Oh Will, you old fart! It’s your birthday again, and yet again you are not here to celebrate it with us. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to devote to a detailed description of your life achievements, but I do have a moment to say just a few words.

You brought years of entertainment to the early 17th Century, and for that I am eternally grateful. Why? Because I, in the 21st century, am still intrigued by your ever classic works. I took a class completely devoted to studying your plays a few years back, and it was one of my favorite classes. I didn’t buy the textbook, I have to admit; but I did hike up to the 4th floor of the library nearly every week to hunt down the next play we’d cover in class that week. And when I say 4th floor, I really mean to include the 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-floor balconies and an extra flight of stairs in between the 3rd-floor balcony and 4th floor. Why it was there, I’ll never know. But it certainly kept me in shape that semester. Since I graduated, though, they’ve completely remodeled the library and I haven’t been back to find your collection.

My favorite play of  yours is Much Ado About Nothing, hands down. Thank you for providing hours of comedic entertainment for peasants and lords alike that was classic enough to be carried through to my generation. Thank you for persevering through your life hardships to produce such epic works.

You are quite possibly the classic literature figure I would most love to meet. Perhaps you’re in heaven now, and we’ll meet up someday and have a chat over tea and biscuits. Perhaps I’m crazy. But no matter. It’s your birthday, and although you’re gone, you will forever be preserved in the world of classic literature. Thank you for your unknowingly impactful contribution to the written word and all its glory. Thank you for existing, William Shakespeare.



Your Public Admirer


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Two More February Birthday Wishes for the Potter Cast?!

phelps brosAnd so it is! Today we wish a very happy birthday to identical twins James and Oliver Phelps. The gents who played Fred and George Weasley, respectively, in the ever-popular Potter franchise will wind up a whopping 28 years old before the day’s end. And for those of you who have been wondering for however long, be in suspense no longer! Oliver Phelps is approximately 13 minutes older than James.

Wanna Play Hooky?

A few months before they auditioned for the roles of Fred and George Weasley, the twins’ drama teacher actually told them not to waste their time trying to get into acting. According to the twins, the teacher informed them that they probably wouldn’t do very well. Ha! Joke’s on the teacher, now!

Oliver and James Phelps agree that they’d initially auditioned for the parts as a way to get a day off from school. According to an interview by Matt Risley for Sky Movies, James elaborates that they admittedly scrapped the place once they saw a bunch of other people dressed the same to audition for the parts of Fred and George. They went to a nearby shop and picked up a set of matching outfits for the audition and whilst out, they even ran into the casting director!

Eeeew, Look! A Ginger!

During an interview on Mail Online, James admits that back in the day he used to tease a fellow schoolmate because of his red hair on their walks to school. Oliver also owns up to a contradictory childhood thought: “I remember watching Kate Winslet in Titanic when I was young and thinking: ‘Why the hell would someone dye their hair ginger?'” Nice going, gents.

Life After Potter

Now that they’re not being paid to be ginger anymore, the two are on the move for more screen time. Oliver is all about the on-screen experience. Brother James, on the other hand, doesn’t exactly oppose to more on-screen roles, but he does confess that he’d like to try his talent at theater as well. The twins actually occasionally try out for the same roles in hopes that one of them will land the position. Maybe it’s just me, but if I had an identical twin sister, I wouldn’t be very fond of the idea of competing for the same role. What about you?

Once You Go Weasley, You Never Go Back

Affinity Real Estate Shooting Stars Benefit banquet

Affinity Real Estate Shooting Stars Benefit Banquet 2010

Once a tight-knitted on-screen family, James and Oliver Phelps and Rupert Grint still enjoy keeping close company with one another. June of 2010, the trio of former Weasley brothers partook in golfing for the Affinity Real Estate Shooting Stars Benefit. The proceeds for the benefit were donated to charity. In 2011, the friends united again to attend Wimbledon together at Rupert’s invitation.

Interested on keeping up with the Phelps twins? Follow @OliverPhelps and @James_Phelps on Twitter for the latest on their lives after Potter.

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Happy Birthday to the Great Alan Rickman

Today is the day we celebrate the one and only man perfect for the portrayal of Severus Snape in all eight Harry Potter films. Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman turns 68 years old today. Born in London, England, Rickman is actually a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, a theater company based in Stratford-upon-Avon, the land Shakespeare once called home. The company puts on a number of plays a year, traveling across the UK. Rickman has done several stage performances in addition to his on-screen roles.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

From the very beginning until the end, Rickman held the role of Severus Snape. His performance as the Potions Master is absolutely remarkable. It is my personal belief that no other actor could ever portray the character more accurately. Not once did this man step out of character. The emotion and dedication to his role he shows on screen just blow viewers away.

Snape’s History

Any bit of Severus Snape’s history is hidden from the series until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the series. In Chapter 28, “Snape’s Worst Memory,” readers are pulled into the reflection of the professor’s not-so-pleasureable time as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Unfortunately, the movie does not include the majority of Snape’s memory.

The Unbreakable Vow

The Unbreakable Vow

In the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, readers are presented with a rather frustrating conflict. Is Severus Snape good or bad? That is the question. He is finally granted his long-anticipated wish to become the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts, allowing Horace Slughorn to accept the open position for Potions Master. But the question remains, does Snape still remain a loyal follower of he-who-must-not-be-named?

“I’ve played my part well,” Snape tells Bellatrix and Narcissa in Half-Blood Prince. “So well that I have deceived the greatest wizard of all time. Dumbledore is a great wizard; only a fool would question it.” Alan Rickman does a great job confusing viewers throughout the whole series; fans across the globe were puzzled until the final book was released in July 2007.

The Secretly Shared Fate of Severus Snape

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

To avoid any spoilers (although I would think nearly the entire universe knows the truth by now), I will not reveal any specifics. But I will tell you this: There is a reason, a reason for every word he says, every breath he takes. And it is beyond anything any fan could have pegged from the start. It has been said that while filming the series, Rowling herself revealed Snape’s fate strictly to Rickman himself, instructing him to refrain from spilling the beans, so to speak. Their own Unbreakable Vow. Alan Rickman kept the fate of his fantastically-played character a secret through to the very end. I believe Rickman was the only person to know the fate of his character from early on, as JK Rowling was not certain on many other characters’ fates in the beginning.

Alan Rickman in Other Roles

A Shakespearean Experience

Naturally, Alan Rickman is a widely known actor and was such even before the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001. As mentioned above, he was once a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He also took part in BBC Television’s Shakespeare series as Tybalt in the most well-known Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet. This episode aired in Europe in December 1978, and first aired in the United States in March of the following year.

In addition, Rickman also played Colonel Brandon in the 1995 production of Shakespeare’s Sense and Sensibility.

Other Popular Roles

Rickman also took on many other roles in movies across the decades, including but not limited to Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard film(1988), Sheriff George of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Harry in Love Actually (2003), Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street (in which he SINGS!) (2007), and he even voiced the character of the Blue Caterpillar in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland film (2010).

Despite turning 68 years of age today, Rickman remains as strong as ever, continuing his roles on screen with the upcoming movies A Promise (the trailer for which can be found here) and A Little Chaos. Hats off to the player of the Potions Master and the greatest Secret Keeper of today, Mr. Alan Rickman.

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Happy Birthday to the Ever Classy Miss Bonnie Wright

bonnie-wright-attends-amfarToday 23 years ago, before the book that inspired her on-screen debut had even been published, Miss Bonnie Francesca Wright entered this world in London, England. Ten years later, in November of 2001, Bonnie made her very first on-screen debut in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as the youngest member of the Weasley family, Ginny Weasley. She continued to fulfill this role throughout the remaining seven movies in the epic, third most successful movie franchise of all time (as of August, 2013).

Since filming the Harry Potter series, Bonnie has attended London College of Communication in hopes to expand her experience behind the scenes as a television and film production manager and has continued her acting career, as well. She also wrote and directed the short Separate We Come, Separate We Go film for school.

Bonnie Wright also remains good friends with co-star Emma Watson, who portrayed Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films. Her most up-to-date filmography can be found here. You can follow Bonnie on Twitter (@thisisbwright) for personal updates on her modeling and film careers, as well as amusing comments on everyday life.


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