Saturday, December 3, 2016

December's Book of the Month--Raymie Nightingale

December’s Book of the Month is RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE, by the astonishing Kate DiCamillo. How does she do it: write book after strong book, all different, and all worthwhile?

Raymie Clarke is determined to learn how to twirl a baton. She’s got to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, so her father will read about her in the newspaper, leave the dental hygienist he ran off with, and come back home. But even though baton twirling lessons do not go as planned, Raymie meets Louisiana Elefante (daughter of the famous Flying Elefantes) and Beverly Tapinski (lock picker extraordinaire). Louisiana dubs them the Three Rancheros, “bound to each other through thick and thin.” Despite Beverly’s rather persistent grumbling, good-deed-doing ensues (sort of), as well as lots of adventures and insights into the human condition. Ramie’s soul expands and contracts as she considers such existential questions as the meaning of life, and the role of story.

There is not one misplaced or casual word in this book. Each statement is elegantly crafted and contributes to the whole. It’s been said that each chapter of Because of Winn-Dixie could stand alone as a short story—while reading RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE, I felt like the entire novel was a short story. Everything single thing is important, and circles back around. It’s funny, and it’s wry, and it’s chock full of wisdom that will likely go over the heads of many readers who are enjoying the darkly zany plot line. But maybe they will find it again, maybe even years later and, looking through, be amazed at all that’s packed in here.

Have you read RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE? What do you think?


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