Published by Candlewick
Summary: Raymie Clarke has a plan to win the 1975 Miss Central Florida Tire contest. In addition to the $1,975 prize money, she wants her father to see her picture in the paper. Then maybe he will change his mind about running away with a dental hygienist and come back to his family. Part of Raymie’s plan is to take baton lessons, and it’s here she meets Louisiana and Beverly. Louisiana is an orphan living with her impoverished grandmother, looking for Archie, her cat that she was forced to give to a shelter. Beverly, whose father has moved to New York and whose mother is responsible for the bruise on Beverly’s face, is already an expert twirler. Her motivation for entering the pageant is to sabotage it. Slowly, unpredictably, these three girls form a bond that results in a wild night together, culminating in Raymie Clarke, renamed Raymie Nightingale by Louisiana, saving her friend’s life. 272 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: A bittersweet story about three girls trying to find their way in a world of sad, lonely, and angry adults. By the end of the book, a friendship has been formed, and each girl has grown up a little in her own unique way.
Cons: Clearly I’m in the minority, but I just don’t get the appeal of Kate DiCamillo. Her characters are so quirky they don’t even seem real to me. The first half of this book seemed like a random string of bizarre occurrences; there is a “look-at-how-clever-I-am” quality to her writing.. However, my opinion notwithstanding, I’m sure by this time next year, the cover of Raymie Nightingale will be sporting a shiny silver or gold Newbery sticker.