Author: Kate DiCamillo
Published: Candlewick Press| April 12, 2016
Length: 263 pg
This post first appeared on April 1st as part of The Willow Nook’s April new release list, but Raymie deserves her own space
Once again Kate Dicamillo steals the show with each book being better than her last. Just like her other works, Raymie Nightingale will make you grin ear-to-ear, sob a little, and say, “I know exactly what she means!”—even if you are an adult, and her newest character, Raymie, is ten.
This book is the closest thing to an autobiography we are likely to get. DiCamillo admits that, like Raymie, she too took baton twirling lessons, applied for a Little Miss contest, was abandoned by her father, tried to think of ways to get him to come home, and—my favorite—“worried about [her] soul.”
Raymie’s own soul glows, inflates, expands, is scrunched, shrunk, sinks like a stone, and even, briefly, disappears entirely. Yet, even when she is “too terrified to go on,” her courage bolsters with the support of her friends, the Three Rancheros. Each privately possess a heart full of pain they would rather not mention. While one pretends to be as tough as nettles, the other invents grandiose stories to feel better. Still, little by little, they let each other in on their secrets and pool their unique strengths, rescuing a library book, an unexpected mutt, and a soaked person. Their real discovery is the kind of friendship that brings new purpose and hope. A friendship that makes life okay, even with the occasional mud-slide.
Dealing with themes as sensitive as divorce and poverty, DiCamillo has a talent for helping us see the gifts placed before us even in devastating situations, one of the greatest of which is friendship.