Raymie Nightingale

raymieby Kate DiCamillo
First sentence: “There were three of them, three girls.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Release date: April 12, 2016
Content: The publisher suggests 10 and up, but I think a 4th-grader would be able to handle it. It will be in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.

Raymie has a plan. She will take baton lessons — it’s the summer of 1975, after all — and enter the Little Miss Central Tire competition, and win. That way, her picture will get in the paper and her father — who recently ran off with a dental hygienist — will see it and want to come home.

The thing is: her plan (like most plans) doesn’t go as she thought it would. She meets two other girls: Louisiana, whose parents have died and who wants to win the competition as much as Raymie because that means she and her grandmother will have money for more than tunafish;  and Beverly, whose mother is insisting on the competition, but who secretly hates it all and would much rather sabotage the whole thing. Together, the three of them have a summer they will never forget.

In many ways, this is vintage DiCamillo: quiet and unassuming, and yet it reaches something deep inside you. I didn’t want to put it down, not because I was thoroughly invested in the plot or the characters, but because this longing to belong, to figure out what life Means, to find and have friends all spoke to me. It’s a common enough theme, but in DiCamillo’s deft hands it transcends the ordinary. (I don’t know if I can praise this highly enough.) And yet, I think it’s going to be one of those books that adults like but kids just don’t quite get. I think this one sits better with some life experience, and some perspective coming to it. But I may be wrong.

Who ever reads it will definitely be touched, I think.

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