Youth Fiction Review: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Posted by: TracieP | Posted on: May 18 2016

10-year-old Raymie Clarke isn't having the best summer so far: her father just skipped town with a dental hygeniest. But Raymie has a plan: if she masters baton twirling and gets crowned 1975's Little Miss Central Florida Tire, her father will see her picture in the paper and come home.

It's a good plan...in theory. But Raymie begins to feel a little doubtful once she meets her baton-twirling classmates, both of whom have plans of their own. Cynical Beverly is plotting to sabotage the pageant; and flighty, dramatic Louisiana Elefante desperately needs the prize money in order to stay out of the county home. Unexpected circumstances draw the three girls together as they cope with loss and struggle to save one another (if not the world). A lost book, a daring cat-rescue, and a runaway shopping cart teach Raymie, Beverly, and Louisiana the comforts and importance of friendship.

Raymie is an observant and sensitive heroine, and her small town is filled with quirky and endearing characters. This novel doesn't shy away from deep questions about life and death but it never lets them weigh down the narrative, contemplating each complexity with gentleness and grace. Beloved author Kate DiCamillo has, in short, done it again: Raymie Nightingale is a poignant tale of summer friendship, a beautifully-written book, and a moving middle-grade novel.