Raymie Nightingale by Kate Di Camillo (Walker Books)
HC RRP $ 19.99
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
Ten year-old Raymie’s father has left without saying goodbye. He has run off with another woman and she is broken at being fatherless. Her mother just sits and gazes into space. Raymie has a plan to bring her father home. If she wins the baton-twirling competition, she will be in the papers, and her dad will see her and possibly return.
There are two other girls in Ida Nee’s baton-twirling class -- Louisiana Elefante, daughter of two trapeze artists drowned at sea who lives with her eccentric grandmother. The other girl, Beverly Tapinski, is the daughter of a cop who lives in another city. All three girls have only one thing in common - their fatherlessness.
Louisiana is prone to fainting spells as she has swampy lungs. She is determined to win the competition to get the prize money to avoid being sent to the county home when her grandmother is no longer there. Beverly doesn’t care very much about anything, but she can twirl a baton.
These three girls become bound together by their mutual loss and loneliness, and all their questions that remain unanswered.
Deeply moving, philosophical and thought-provoking, Kate Di Camillo, two time recipient of the Newbery Medal, always produces spectacular work. She captures the purity of child characters’ voices and thoughts, and leaves the reader enraptured by the strength of insight and emotion that pours through her work without it being sentimental.