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 publication date
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]
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.
Note: I received this free through LibraryThing's Early Review Program in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.
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.
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"!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Set in America in 1975, this story
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.