Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.
Another wonderfully bittersweet book by Kate DiCamillo!
Interestingly this is the second middle grade fiction I’ve read recently that was set in the 70’s. We’ll have to see if the trend keeps up. DiCamillo does a fabulous job of finding the humor and hope in tragic situations. She adds enough quirky characters and then puts those characters in painfully awkward scenes that helps to keep their tragedies in perspective. If you’ve read any of Kate DiCamillo’s other books, I’d put this on par with her *Newbery honor book “Because of Winn-Dixie”.
But I don’t think Raymie Nightingale is quite as good as “The Tale of Despereaux,” which is both a Newbery Award winner, and one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve you’ve never read Kate DiCamillo, then I’d say that Raymie Nightingale is a good place to start.
*Newbery medals are awarded by the American Library Association for the most distinguished children’s book of the year.