KidLit Challenge - Raymie Nightingale by Kate Dicamillo

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Title: Raymie Nightingale
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Age Range: 8-12 years
Publication Year: 2016
Length: 263 pages

Official Summary

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie 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.


As I sit here with a mug of hot tea, thankful for a snow day free from work, I'm also thankful for books like Raymie Nightingale. I don't know why it is that some adult fiction tends towards the absurd notion that life is all wine and roses. That has never been, will never be, the case. Which is why I love books that acknowledge sometimes life hurts but while still offering hope. That is pretty much this book in a nutshell.

Raymie, as the summary says, is trying to win a contest so she can get her picture in the paper and win her father back to their family. Her grief at his betrayal is to try and rectify the situation. You know and I know that her plan will never work, but she's a child where all the impossible things become possible so she has hope. 

But if she hadn't wanted to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, she would have never met Beverly and Louisiana. She goes from being a little girl with no friends to a little girl with 2 best friends.

This book is both an easy read physically but a difficult read mentally. It deals with adultery, with suicidal thoughts, with broken families, and with the horrors of an animal center that takes in abandoned/unwanted pets in the 1970s. Not pretty pictures for children. But all so very real scenarios.

I'm glad I read Raymie Nightingale

I'm glad because the end of the book is so hopeful and I know these children will be alright. There's even a bit of a miracle that crops up at the end, some special magic that made me smile. Sometimes the most improbable miracle is the miracle you most wish could happen.

If your children prefer books about realism than you really don't get more realistic than this novel. I've never read anything by Kate DiCamillo and if I don't ever read anything by her again, that's okay, because I loved Raymie Nightingale.

2 books down from this challenge, 13 to go!

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