Raymie Nightingale

by Kate DiCamillo

Hardcover, 2016



Local notes

Fic DiC



Candlewick (2016), 272 pages


Raymie Clarke decides that if she 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.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

272 p.; 5.75 inches


0763681172 / 9780763681173



Library's review

No friendship is perfect everyday, right? Some days, no one gets you like your friends, no one can make you laugh as hard, or sing as loud. Other days, you've never felt so confused by someone in your life. In "Raymie Nightingale" by Kate DiCamillo, the main character Raymie Clark meets two girls in a baton twirling class who are quite different from her, and over one summer, they become great friends. Turns out, people are a lot more interesting, and a lot more surprising, the more you get to know them.

When one of the girls asks, "Have you ever in your life come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on you?" Raymie sees right away that they have common goals. You see, Raymie's father had left her and her mother, with a dental hygienist, without saying goodbye to her or explaining anything. Raymie feels both terrible grief, and total responsibility, for bringing him back home. Over the course of that summer, full of daring adventures and attempts to set things right, Raymie feels her soul swell when she feels supported by her friends and family, and then at other times, her soul shrinks and shrivels when she is faced with fears, confusing losses and unresolved conflicts.

If you read this book I predict that you will laugh, you will cry, AND this book might just become a treasured friend. [Book Review by Kate H., RSSAA parent & volunteer 9/2016]
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User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Struggling to cope with the grief and loss attendant on her father's decision to abandon his wife and daughter and run off with another woman, young Raymie Clarke has a plan. She will win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire 1975 competition, get her name in the papers, and remind her father of her existence, thereby (hopefully) bringing him home. In the process of pursuing this unlikely goal, Raymie becomes friends with two other girls - the truculent but secretly tenderhearted Beverly Tapinski, who longs to escape their small town and live with her policeman father in New York, and who is planning to sabotage the competition; and the loving and too-good-for-this-world Louisiana Elefante, a starving orphan living with her grandmother, perpetually on the run from child welfare, who wants to win the competition in order to save her beloved cat Archie from the animal shelter to which they were forced to surrender him, when no longer able to feed him. As the three girls become better acquainted, they find solace for their various troubles with one another, and strength to try and do something about them.

Having recently begun an exploration of the work of Kate DiCamillo, two-time winner of the Newbery Medal, for The Tale of Despereaux and Flora and Ulysses, I was excited to get to Raymie Nightingale, her latest work, published earlier this year (2016). As with some of her other realistic titles for children - Because of Winn Dixie, The Tiger Rising - DiCamillo explores the reality of absent parents here, as all three of her characters are missing one or both parents, either through death or abandonment. I thought her depiction of Raymie's internal emotional struggles - her expanding and contracting soul, her occasional feeling of epiphany, of love for the world and those around her - was sensitively done, often immensely poignant. The conclusion is hopeful, leaving the reader with the sense that, although none of the challenges the three friends confront have changed or disappeared, they will manage to get through them somehow, drawing strength from their friendship. Recommended to anyone who has enjoyed DiCamillo's previous works, or is looking for quality middle-grade fiction.
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LibraryThing member empress8411
Ten-year old Raymie faces one of the hardest events that can occur to a child - when a parent leaves. Particularly when that parent doesn't say goodbye. DiCamillo writes this with authenticity - the complex emotions, the uncertainty, the strange plans we pin our hopes on, As an adult reader, I can see what Raymie doesn't about Beverly and Louisiana - see how both are in the same place, emotionally, that Raymie is. Vulnerable and hurting, as only kids can. While the resolution in the end didn't make this a happy ending, but made it a realistic ending - for all the girls. As with all DiCamillo stories, this is excellent and worth reading.

Note: I received this free through LibraryThing's Early Review Program in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.
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LibraryThing member kimpiddington
This novel is alive with rich characters-it was a delight to turn the page and see how they affected Raymie's story.
LibraryThing member 68papyrus
Thanks for Candlewick Press and LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program for providing me with an ARC of Raymie Nightingale. Raymie has decided that the fate of her family rests in her hands. Her father has left home with his dental hygienist and Raymie has a plan to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire Competition so that her father will see her in the newspapers and feel compelled to return home. In typical DiCamillo fashion this is a story with quirky characters, zany dialogue and plenty of odd situations. It is also a story about friendships, family and being your own best self. I thought the story was interesting and a quick read but I felt like it was lacking in depth and character development. It was definitely a good read but could have been better if we had more details on each character's back story. I felt like each of the girls had a lot going on in their lives but the reader is only given a small glimpse at each girl's lives.… (more)
LibraryThing member foggidawn
I finished this book over a week ago, so the details are a little vague in my mind already. However, what remains is the sense of a sweet, satisfying read, well-crafted and evocative. Of all the DiCamillo I've read so far, this one comes close to achieving the excellence of Because of Winn Dixie. Highly recommended, and I'm predicting that this one has a good chance at a shiny sticker next January.… (more)
LibraryThing member elizabeth1929
Put simply...this was one of those short and sweet stories for me. The ones that need little to no brain power to understand. AND THIS IS A GOOD THING. After reading a plethora of English novels and squeezing out every single little detail of significance as humanly possible, this kind of story is...very pleasing.


The characters were quite diverse. And I loved them all! Although, I did have a love-hate relationship with Beverly's attitude though. Her indifference towards...almost everything was annoying...and to balance her attitude, Louisiana, seemed overly optimistic or dramatic...also annoying...and Raymie...she was the mediator between the two, I guess!

Yes, I do realise that I contradicted myself a little there...it made sense in my head, anyway....

So! Baton twirling! I've heard of such a thing before...and reading about it in this book...I decided to do some Googling, and WOW, I want to learn how to twirl a baton now, too!

I enjoyed reading about this little crusade. Raymie, trying to win the contest so that her dad will come back, Beverly, trying to sabotage the contest because her mom enters her every year, and Louisiana, trying to win the contest because the winner receives a large check...and she needs that money so that she can have a proper place to live, and proper food to eat.

All the mini adventures this little trio have were amusing, and at times, even touching.

And the ending! In case you were wondering...Raymie DOES get to communicate with her father at the end...but the results are nowhere near satisfying! Not only that...I found the entire ending to be...lacking. I wanted to know more of their lives after the contest ended....ah wells.
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LibraryThing member shazzerwise
Another beautiful story from the master Kate DiCamillo. I don't know how she does it, but Ms. DiCamillo's prose is filled with everyday magic, and she makes even the most mundane action or thought feel as though it were beautiful and important. It would be hard to read this book, and not feel your soul shrink and swell in turn with Raymie's. We all need a little magic in our lives, and Ms. DiCamillo's books are perfect for just that reason.… (more)
LibraryThing member s_webb
What a beautiful book: interesting, believable characters; nostalgic, cohesive plot; prose that reads like poetry—some lines even made me stop and stare. I loved everything about this book and am positive it'll be DiCamillo's next big hit.
LibraryThing member Debra_Armbruster
Pretty and evocative, but I feel that way about most Kate DiCamillo books. I may need to live with this one a little longer before committing to my review.

I was lucky enough to meet Kate at a signing event for Raymie Nightingale last night an can confirm that she is just as warm and lovely in person as she appears on the page.… (more)
LibraryThing member lfitzsimmons
Raymie Clarke's father just left his family for a dental hygienist, and Raymie has the perfect plan to get him back. She's going to learn baton twirling and win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. She ends up meeting two very interesting girls in her baton twirling lessons, and they end up striking up quite a friendship. Raymie learns a lot about herself along the way.… (more)
LibraryThing member St.CroixSue
This is a Juvenile book by two-time winner of the Newbery Award. Set in the central Florida, three young girls form an unlikely friendship and help each other out through each of their life challenges. Gentle and compassionate, it is a good one for a family car ride with young girls.
LibraryThing member librarian1204
It is absolutely wonderful to be back in Central Florida with Kate DiCamillo.
The time is 1975 and three girls are trying to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. They meet taking baton twirling lessons . All three girls have different reasons for wanting the win.
Raymie wants to win so that a picture of her in the newspaper will bring her father back home.
Louisiana wants to win so that she and her grandmother can buy food.
Beverly wants to win so that she can travel to NYC to be with her father.
In pursuit of their quest the three girls become friends who learn about each other and the people they meet along the way.
Full of great characters and great side stories, this book is funny, heart warming, and sad but most of all a joy to read and sure to be a Newbery for DiCamillo.
Read as an ARC from NetGalley.
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
Lucky me—at least I hoped so when I received a Library Thing review copy. But when reading an author I love, there’s always that fear that this book won’t live up to my hopes. When I tell you the book is about three girls who don’t seem to have much a future: Raymie, whose father left and whose mother can’t seem to cope with that, Beverly whose father also walked out on the family and whose mother beats Beverly because shoplifts, and Louisiana whose parents died and she lives with her nutty grandmother in a dilapidated home with no power or furniture, the book sounds depressing. Remember how DiCamillo works her language magic in Because of Winn-Dixie and you’ll find out how just as Raymie say “It was the strangest thing how happiness came out of nowhere and inflated your soul.” DiCamillo’s gentle way with words continues in this newest (I hope) Newbery Award winner.… (more)
LibraryThing member Whisper1
DiCamillo is one of my favorite authors. Consistent with her ability to create loving and lovable characters who poignantly struggle with difficulties early in life, once again this Newbery Medal Award winning author created yet another magical, marvelous story of love, loss, hardship, and the ability to face the storms of life with face toward the wind, knowing the umbrella is inverted, yet praying for the sunshine. All of her characters have fortitude and the ability to pick themselves up and start over again.

Worthy of another Newbery Medal, I'll be surprised (and disappointed) if this book does not receive the award.

Raymie Clarke is hurting badly by the absence of her father. Rumor has it that he ran away with the local dental hygienist. Longing to hear from him, Raymie decides to take twirling lessons from the older Ida Nee who has a history of winning contests. Raymie sets her goal on winning the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. She firmly believes that if only she can win and then be featured in the newspaper, her father will see her accomplishment and photo and will return!

On the first day of lessons, Raymie meets Louisiana Elefante, who hails from a family of high wire accrobats, no longer alive, leaving Louisiana with her impoverished granny. Eating one can of tuna after another, Louisiana needs the prize money that accompanies the title of Little Miss Central Florida Tire, not only to help grannie out of poverty, but to be able to feed and reclaim her cat that was given away to a rescue society.

Making a three some is spunky, devil may care hardened Beverly Tapinski whose main goal is to sabotage the competition. With a strong shell of protection and a tough vocabulary, inside Beverly Tapinski lies softness and vulnerability.

The author weaves magical tapestry with these three engaging children, none of whom have a full parental unit.

I struggle to express just how wonderful this book is. The three girls grow together and create a solidarity that engages the reader to route for and wish the best for all. The cast of adjunct characters, Ida Nee, Granny, a wonderful nurse named Ruthie, and Ms. Sylvester, the tender-hearted secretary of Raymie's father/owner of the Jim Clarke Family Insurance company bring added dimension and loving humor.

This is a five star book! I read it in a few hours and wanted to immediately start all over again.
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LibraryThing member SueS7
Loved this story, with quirky characters that reminded me of Little Miss Sunshine. That lovely balance of humour and serious issues. Three 10 year old girls form an unlikely friendship, each with their own dilemma to deal with. The grandmother is a hoot, and my favourite character. Raymie's voice lets the reader into the interior mind of a young girl who experiences the loss of her father who has run away with his assistant. Beautiful writing that allows you to know Raymie's confusion, hope, rationalisation, courage and realisation.… (more)
LibraryThing member bibliovermis
This book reminded me of the sweet bits of Louis Sachar's books, which is really high praise!

The copy of this I read was altered for a UK audience, even though it takes place in Florida. Which was weird, and distracting, for someone actually from Florida! No one in Florida would call a "flashlight" a "torch"!… (more)
LibraryThing member asomers
Kate DiCamillo never disappoints. This is a beautifully tender story about three young girls who find that they can face almost anything when they stick together.
LibraryThing member EllsbethB
While I like the unpredictability of this book and it has some beautiful language, the story just isn't my cup of tea. However, it does have a pretty decent ending. I can see why kids would enjoy this one.
LibraryThing member rjrubylou
Summary:When Raymie's dad run's off with his dental hygienist she is convinced that if she just learns to twirl a baton she will be able to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Her dad will see her picture in the paper, and come back to the family. She did plan on meeting Louisiana, who is also planning on winning the competition, or Beverly who is planning on sabotaging the competition. The three have more in common than just showing up for baton twirling lessons. They become each others' support, and what's more, they become the types of friends that we can all remember from our own childhood. Tumultuous, ridiculous, full of big dreams, and childlike thinking. This book is one that makes you laugh, cry, and work through the triumphs and disappointments of childhood with these three very real characters.
Personal Response:I loved, loved, loved this book. It was like reliving my own childhood in California (although this took place in Florida). I didn't want to put this book down and it took me longer than I wanted it to through a very busy work week. I am hoping that kids will nominate this book for our Wyoming Indian Paintbrush Book Award for the coming year. I am on that committee, and I can't force it, but if this one ends up on the list of nominees, I will make sure this one makes it to the top ten for our state. Every 4th- 6th grade kid should read this book. My only complaint, is the cover. It does not draw kids in.
Curriculum Connections: For confident readers dealing with divorce, odd grandparents or demanding parents, this book is one to recommend. I would also recommend this book as a read-aloud for any 4th- 6th grade teacher who would be willing to tackle a longer book in the classroom. 6th grade teachers could also use this book as an example of story structure, explaining plot, rising action, problem, solution, conclusion, and theme. This is one that I will keep on my radar and teachers' radar as well. Excellent!
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LibraryThing member lindamamak
Not one of my favorite Dicamillo books
LibraryThing member mcintorino
Raymie Clarke is a strong narrator in this book about divorce and friendship. With her two friends, Louisiana and Beverly, Raymie embarks on a series of adventures in the summer of 1975. Raymie's quest to become Little Miss Central Florida Tire is the thread that binds together this book. The characters are unique and richly drawn. The situations are funny, poignant and touching. Ultimately the book ends with Raymie's dream coming true in a very different way than she imagined.

This book will appeal to middle aged readers who like books about girls' friendships. It will appeal to readers who like original story lines and characters. This is a good book for talking about separation and the tolls it takes on families. This book will appeal to readers who might be interested in life in 1975 in Central Florida.
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LibraryThing member RefPenny
Raymie's father has left town with his dental hygienist but Raymie has a plan to get him to come back. The first step is to learn baton-twirling. The story opens with Raymie in in the backyard of Ida Nee (World Champion baton-twirler) with two other girls - Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Trapinski. Baton-twirling lessons are not a success but the meeting in Ida Ne's backyard leads to the formation of The Three Rancheros - three friends who help solve each others' problems.
Set in America in 1975, this story
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LibraryThing member mandy42990
Kate Dicamillo has won my heart all over again. Along with Raymie, I grinned at her neighbors and friends who are chalk full of personality, I grew concerned over her sensitive soul, and I cried in frustration at the painful unfairness of life. DiCamillo has a gift for speaking to you right where you are at, even if you haven't been Raymie's age for a very long time. What a gentle and heartwarming book without shrinking from sensitive themes, such as divorce, death, and hunger.… (more)
LibraryThing member ewyatt
Raymie is determined to win a pageant as a way to get her dad back. During baton lessons she meets Louisiana and Beverly, they become the three rancheros - having adventures and helping each other. A sweet story of friendship and billowing souls.




(181 ratings; 3.9)
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