Kate DiCamillo is the author of THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, which received the Newbery Medal; BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, which received a Newbery Honor; and THE TIGER RISING, which was named a National Book Award Finalist. She says, "Mercy Watson had been in my head for a long time, but I couldn't figure out how to tell her story. One day, my friend Alison was going on and on and on about the many virtues of toast. As I listened to her, I could see Mercy nodding in emphatic agreement. Sometimes you don't truly understand a character until you know what she loves above all else."