Review of Raymie Nightingale

dicamillo_raymie nightingalestar2 Raymie Nightingale
by Kate DiCamillo
Intermediate    Candlewick    264 pp.
4/16    978-0-7636-8117-3    $16.99    g

When ten-year-old Raymie Clarke’s father runs away with a dental hygienist, Raymie has no idea how to take charge of her life. Her mother’s no help, and her father’s secretary simply assures her that “most things work out right in the end.” So, remembering the advice of last summer’s life-saving class instructor, Raymie vows to become a problem solver rather than a problem causer. She will enter the (1975) Little Miss Central Florida Tire contest, win, get her name in the paper, and astonish her father, who will hurry home filled with pride. Lacking any marketable talent, she enrolls in baton lessons and there meets two other girls with their eyes on the same prize. Orphaned and fragile, Louisiana Elefante desperately needs the winner’s money; hard-as-nails Beverly Tapinski wants to sabotage the contest and, consequently, her overbearing mother. The girls don’t form an immediate bond, but their initial association of convenience eventually turns into a friendship of understanding and fierce loyalty. After christening the trio the Three Rancheros, Louisiana delivers these prescient words: “We’ll rescue each other.” And in a beautifully layered set of adventures, they do. The limited third-person narration gives Raymie her distinctive voice and spot-on pre-adolescent perspective of a young girl trying to make sense of the world around her. Here DiCamillo returns — triumphantly — to her Winn-Dixie roots.

From the March/April 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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