Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Raymie Nightingale
by Kate DiCamillo
Expected Release Date April 12, 2016 
Candlewick Press 
Middle Grade Fiction
272 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

I was beyond thrilled to receive this advanced copy of Raymie Nightingale and started reading it right away. I am not ordinarily a fast reader, but I devoured it. Not only that, but after I finished, I started reading it again. This never happens. I needed to spend more time with these incredible characters and within Kate DiCamillo's words. While I want to share my thoughts with others here, I have been, and expect to be, thinking about Raymie, Louisiana, and Beverly for quite some time.  

Raymie has a plan, a plan to get her father to come back home. Her mother and father have recently separated since Raymie's father "left town two days ago with a dental hygienist." She plans to enter and win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire 1975 competition. She feels that when her father sees her picture in the newspaper as the winner, then he will want to come home. 

Raymie has been told that she should learn to twirl a baton for the talent portion of the competition, so the story opens with Raymie at baton twirling lessons with two other characters, Beverly Tapinski and Louisiana Elefante. Each girl has a goal connected to the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. While Raymie wants to bring her father home, Louisiana wants to win the prize money so she and her grandmother can afford to buy food for her cat Archie, who they had to give up to a shelter recently. And Beverly wants to sabotage the entire competition so it never happens. 

The three girls could not be more different from one another, but through a series of interesting events, they slowly become friends. I loved each of them and the three of them so much! Raymie is desperate and determined, yet unsure of herself and very aware of what makes "her soul" expand or shrink. Beverly, the daughter of a NYC police officer is rougher around the edges, but has the sweetest soft side at just the right times. And Louisiana is innocent, naive, and optimistic to the extreme.

This story is filled with characters, each as interesting and real as the next. There is the quirky, unorthodox neighbor, Mrs. Borkowski who offers advice. Mrs. Sylvester is the motherly secretary at Raymie's father's insurance office who offers candy corn and gives assurances that "Most things work out right in the end." Then there is Louisiana's grandmother who is feisty and eccentric and Ida Nee, the former baton twirling champion who doesn't want to leave her glory days behind. Whether the character is present throughout the book or says three words in a brief encounter, DiCamillo made me care about each one. She masterfully circles them back throughout the book as though to remind us why each one was important. In the end the reader learns how each event and person was connected. 

Kate DiCamillo is well-known for her use of descriptive language. I was continually struck by her creative choice of words. There is a notable phrase or sentence worth quoting on nearly every page. 
I could honestly go on and on about this book. It would make a fabulous read aloud or independent read for middle graders.
Raymie Nightingale is simply the best book I have read in recent memory and has taken a spot among my very favorite books. It is certain to become a beloved favorite with many readers. 

See what others have to say about Ramie Nightingale.
Publishers Weekly
Huffington Post


  1. I enjoyed your review and I'm particularly eager to read this! Thanks for a peek into the story.