|Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Anne Thompson|
|Summary: This is a story of loss and hope, of good deeds and bravery, of a childhood summer of adventures and most of all of how friendships can affect us. Written with style and humour this will stay with you after you've finished it. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: April 2016|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
|External links: Author's website|
It is the summer of 1975 and ten year old Ramie's dad has left home with another woman. Raymie is utterly heartbroken and believes that everything, absolutely everything, now depends on her, because Raymie has a plan. If she wins the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition her name and her photo will be in the paper and then, Raymie believes, her father may just possibly come back home. At least she hopes that he will. To win the competition she must carry out some good deeds and learn to twirl a baton so she enrols in a baton twirling class where she meets Louisiana, timid and prone to fainting, and Beverly, cynical and determined to sabotage the competition. As the competition draws nearer and Raymie starts to despair that her plan will work circumstances conspire to draw the three girls together in an unlikely friendship that will challenge and change all three of them.
Kate DiCamillo has a knack for balancing sadness in children's books with hope and humour and with Raymie she has done it again. On the face of it this is a story of the summer adventures of a group of young girls trying for their own individual reasons to win a competition but as their story unfolds we realise that the girls have more in common than we thought. All three of them have suffered loss in their families and they become slowly bound together in what starts as an uneasy truce and gradually develops into a caring and loyal friendship. I loved Raymie, an earnest and thoughtful girl, eager to please and slightly bewildered by the world of adults. She so badly wants to be a problem solver and do the right thing. By the end of the story Raymie discovers that she can be courageous when it's really needed in circumstances that I did not expect.
This is the sort of story you want to talk about as you are reading it as there are so many aspects that provoke thoughtful discussion. The adults who do help the girls are not always conventional in their behaviour and there are instances where difficult situations are implied rather than dwelt on in detail but the social issues are an important part of the story and handled appropriately and kindly by DiCamillo. Although the book is targeted at around the 10+ age group I do think that slightly older readers would find much that would engage them in this story too.
The writing is wonderful, emotions are expressed eloquently and with a turn of phrase that feels original and fresh in relatively short chapters. The author has a kindly humour that runs through even the saddest sections of the story giving it a balance suitable for its target audience. At times this is poignant but it never becomes depressing as our little band of friends learn to cope and form a friendship that by the end of the book the reader believes has become a lasting one.
I enjoyed this so much I am tempted to re-read it and that doesn't happen often. Highly recommended. Thank you to the publishers, Walker Books, for supplying this review copy for the Bookbag.
If you haven't read any other books by Kate DiCamillo I would recommend The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, very different to this but equally poignant in its own way.
You can read more book reviews or buy Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo at Amazon.com.
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