Kate DiCamillo burst onto the children’s book world with a flash, receiving a Newbery Honor for her very first book, the realistic and much beloved Because of Winn-Dixie. Ever since she has explored different genres, piling up well-deserved honors along the way; her books include witty stories for early readers featuring a toast-loving pig, a fairy tale celebrating a sensitive and brave mouse, fables of elephants, tigers, and (china) rabbits, and her most recent Newbery winner — a delightfully surreal story that opens with a vacuum cleaner turning an ordinary squirrel into a poet.
In Raymie Nightingale, out this April, this uniquely talented writer has returned to her roots, to the Florida of her childhood, centering on an imagined small town that feels just down the road from the one in Because of Winn-Dixie. It is the summer of 1975 and Raymie Clarke’s father is gone, run off with a dental hygienist. Now Raymie is at Ida Nee’s to learn how to twirl a baton so perfectly that she can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition and get her photo in the paper for her father to see, wherever he is. Also at Ida Nee’s are Louisiana Elefante who has swooning tendencies and rough and tough Beverly Tapinski. Over the course of this gorgeous spare novel, as the competition draws near, these girls — each with fears and pains of her own — become unlikely friends.
In tight chapters that are sometimes barely three pages, crisp paragraphs (DiCamillo is the master of the one sentence paragraph), and elegantly crafted sentences, Raymie Nightingale is a book to savor, to read and re-read. Fans will recognize DeCamillo’s unique wry voice as it gives readers vivid images, dizzying ideas, humor, heart-wrenching emotions, and gorgeous, gorgeous language. You all have something to look forward to this April, I promise.