Raymie Clarke has a few problems, the most pressing one being that her father has taken off with a dental hygienist and has no apparent plans to ever return.
The thought of that-the fact of it-that she, Raymie Clarke was without a father, made a small, sharp pain shoot through Raymie’s heart every time she considered it.
Sometimes the pain in her heart made her feel too terrified to go on. Sometimes it made her want to drop to her knees.
But then she would remember that she had a plan.
That plan was to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition…so that her father would see her picture in the newspaper…so that he would remember that he belonged back home with Raymie and her mother…so that life would be the way it was supposed to be.
Four pages into Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale, I knew that I had fallen in love with Raymie and could not put her story down until I knew what became of her plan, the Three Rancheros (her immediate competitors for the Little Miss Central Florida Tire crown), and their joint effort to heal the many worries of their world through friendship, sheer force of good will and faith in goodness.
Kate DiCamillo has a magical way with creating characters – they are quirky, full of soul, funny, and honest. And Kate DiCamillo also has a magical way with building stories around things that matter, especially to children. As we follow the Three Rancheros through their often improbable escapades, those things that matter are explored with humor and with truth. The world is often an inexplicable place, and grown ups often behave inexplicable ways, but children need to know trust and love…they need to hold on to the gift of being able to believe.
Here is Kate DiCamillo sharing some thoughts about what led her to write Raymie Nightingale:
Just this morning, having had the chance to read Raymie twice already, I had the chance to pass it along to a student in need of a book to read after finishing the PARCC test with another 35 minutes of quiet time to go. She still had her nose in it when it was time to leave…and that was my last sight of Lauren for the day, deep into Raymie Nightingale and utterly absorbed in its magic.