I have been hearing about Raymie Nightingale for many months. I was so excited when our copy arrived at school. I knew it would be fabulous because, like so many children's literature people, I adore the writing of Kate DiCamillo. Raymie Nightingale is actually such a brilliant book I just don't know how to tell you about it but I will try because I want to encourage you to run into your local library and grab this book. This is absolutely a ten out of ten book!
Raymie Clarke has a plan. She needs to convince her dad to return to his family. Two days ago he ran off with a dental hygienist. The plan means winning the Little Miss Central Florida Tire (in Australia we spell this tyre) competition. Raymie is sure this will make him come home. She knows she can win if she can learn baton twirling. Raymie meets two girls at her baton twirling class. Louisiana Elefante who also desperately needs to win this competition.
"I'm going to win that one thousand nine hundred and seventy-five dollars and save myself from the county home and get Archie back from the Very Friendly Animal Centre and never be terrified again."
Beverley Tapinski, the other girl Raymie meets at baton twirling, does not need to win this competition. In fact she has a plan to sabotage the event.
This is a story of healing. All three girls have complex lives. It is Louisiana who realises, early on, that the three girls need to work together.
"We're the Three Rancheros! We're bound to each other through thick and thin ...We'll rescue each other."
Different adventures bring the girls together. Raymie tries to complete a good deed by visiting an elderly resident in a local nursing home. She drops her precious library book when a different resident frightens her. The book is important because it is a library book and so it must be returned. The book is called A bright and shining path : The life of Florence Nightingale.
I love this description of Mr Option the librarian :
"Mr Option looked too young and uncertain to be a librarian. Also, his ties were too wide, and they were all painted with strange and lonely pictures of deserted beaches, haunted-looking forests or UFOs."
In their first adventure the girls band together to retrieve the precious book. Then Louisiana needs help to retrieve her precious cat from the animal centre and this involves a visit in the middle of the night. Beverley needs help to resolve her anger and perhaps find friendship and compassion.
Our Magpies Magazine featured Raymie Nightingale in their latest issue March, 2016. The reviewer, Helen Purdie, opens her review with these words - I heartily agree :
"Every once in a while a lucky reader will discover a story that is so entertaining, magical and poignant that closing the book at the end produces a genuine feeling of loss."
Mr Schu talks to Kate and you can also watch some video interviews. Here is a beautiful review. Here is another interview which gives excellent insights into Kate and how her own experiences link with Raymie. Listen to a story extract.
School Library Journal
Her story unfolds in uncomplicated prose, even as the themes explored are complex.
Once again, DiCamillo demonstrates the power of simple words in a beautiful and wise tale.
Waking Brain Cells
The language pulls you in, embraces you and you happily immerse yourself in the world that a master storyteller has built for you. It’s a world filled with three girls who are vibrantly human and each completely distinct from one another