Kids Book of the Week: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Kids Book of the Week: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

9781406373189 (3)Raymie Clarke has a plan. It involves good deeds, a cat who is maybe a dog, bunny hair clips, baton twirling, and two very different girls.

Raymie Nightingale is the new book from award winning author Kate DiCamillo, author of well-loved The Tale of Desperaux  and The Tiger RisingThe New York Times has said “DiCamillo is a star of the children’s publishing world,” and this new venture absolutely proves it. In fact, we would venture to say that Raymie Nightingale tops anything DiCamillo has written before.

Raymie Nightingale follows the story of Raymie Clarke. It is 1975 and her father has left town with the dental hygienist. Her mother is broken-hearted; she sits on the couch all day and is silent. Raymie spends her time talking to the old lady across the street, Mrs Borkowski, and cutting her toenails in exchange for sweets. When she’s lonely and needs someone to talk to, she rings Mrs Sylvester, the receptionist at her father’s insurance office. But she has a plan. A plan to bring her father back.

Raymie knows that if her father sees a picture of her in the newspaper, he’ll miss her and come back. So she’s determined to enter Little Miss Central Florida Tile and win – to get her picture published. Raymie takes baton-twirling lessons. Her teacher, Ida Nee, baton-twirling extraordinaire, is a horrible teacher, and while Raymie doesn’t learn any baton-twirling, she does meet two extraordinary girls: wispy but determined Louisiana Elefante, and the fiesty, knife-wielding Beverly Tapinski.

While baton-twirling doesn’t go to plan, Raymie’s life does go on twists and turns that will surprise you at every chapter. Raymie and her friends will rob a house, find a dog, set free a bird, read to the elderly, and throughout it all become the Three Rancheros – not, as Raymie suggests, the Three Musketeers. Raymie Nightingale is a story about love, loss, and friendship. It’s about learning to stand on your own two feet, and learning to let someone else in when you need it. It’s about three little girls who are alone, and by the end, maybe aren’t so alone anymore.

kateDiCamillo’s writing is as beautiful as ever. The novel is heartbreakingly sad, but there is a sense of hope throughout the pages. It deals with some heavy topics, and adults reading the book will see beyond the surface into some of the situations. Louisiana, for example, is an orphan, living with her grandmother, under threat of being sent to the local home. Beverly, as well, suffers a violent relationship with her mother, which often leaves physical evidence behind. And Raymie is alone, her mother not always there. There are issues of death, loneliness, abuse and neglect in the novel, but DiCamillo deals tactfully and elegantly with these topics, suffusing Raymie Nightingale with an undeniable knowledge that these three girls will make it out the other end alright.

While the novel focuses on three girls, there is a vibrant tone and mood to Raymie Nightingale that will make the novel perfect for boys and girls ages nine and up. Adults will love this book, too, for its beautiful imagery and focus on family and friendship. Raymie Nightingale will take your heart, break it, and put it back together, and you’ll be left smiling by the end of it.

Kate DiCamillo is one of America’s most well-regarded storytellers, author of The Tale of Despereaux and Flora and Ulysses, both of which have been awarded the prestigious Newbery Medal; Because of Winn-Dixie, which received a Newbery Honor; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award; and the bestselling Mercy Watson series. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in Florida and now lives in Minneapolis, USA, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week.

Kate will be in Australia on the following dates:

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Publisher details

Raymie Nightingale
Author
Kate DiCamillo
Publisher
Walker Books
Genre
Children’s Fiction
Released
12 April, 2016

Synopsis

In the new book, ten-year-old Raymie Clarke grapples with the realisation that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. 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, Raymie must force herself far outside of her comfort zone to do good deeds and exhibit a talent for baton twirling. 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.
Kate DiCamillo
About the author

Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo was born in Philadelphia and moved with her family to Florida when she was five years old. In her twenties, Kate DiCamillo moved to Minnesota. It was this dislocation from her home that inspired Kate to write her first novel, Because of Winn-Dixie. An immediate commercial and critical success, Because of Winn-Dixie went on to become a Newbery Honour Book in 2001 and was subsequently made into a film that was released in 2005. But that wasn’t enough for Kate, and she went on to win the Newbery Medal in 2004 for her book The Tale of Despereaux, a story about an unlikely hero. This was followed by another unusual tale with The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, a story about a china rabbit who learns about love. Kate has also written a series of early chapter-book readers about a lovable pig named Mercy Watson and her fun adventures. Kate lives in Minneapolis, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week.

Books by Kate DiCamillo

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  1. Kate DiCamillo is also appearing for a public talk at St Rita’s College Clayfield on May 30 at 6.00pm. Limited tickets still available. Tickets are $8 each or 3 for $20.00. All proceeds go towards Indigenous Literacy Programs. Tickets available at https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=267843&