Katie Fitzgerald's Reviews > Raymie Nightingale

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
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bookshelves: genre-realistic-fiction, level-middle-grade

More and more lately, it seems like librarians jump on the bandwagon of love for a particular book, and I am one of the few who just doesn't get it. I have mostly been a fan of Kate DiCamillo. The Tale of Despereaux, Because of Winn Dixie, Bink and Gollie, Mercy Watson, and the Deckawoo Drive books have all been favorites, and her writing style generally appeals to me. The only book I did not really like was Flora and Ulysses, which was too quirky, and in my opinion, not of Newbery quality. I figured I would probably like Raymie Nightingale, as it is realistic and set in the 70s, a time period I usually like to read about. So I was not prepared for how utterly boring this story is. Raymie's father has run away with a dental hygientist, and in order to convince him to come back home, she wants to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire pageant. To prepare, she signs up for baton twirling lessons, where she meets Beverly Tapinski, whose main goal in life is to sabotage everything, and Louisiana Elefante, who is highly dramatic and always hiding from the social worker who would take her from her grandmother and place her in the county home. The three girls form an unlikely friendship, which sends them on strange errands to a nursing home, an animal shelter, and beyond.

There are lots of lovely lines within the story, but many of them read like they carry more weight than they actually do. Almost every moment of the story calls attention to itself as important in some way, but many of the elements that seem like metaphors are never fully folded into the plot. There is almost nothing to suggest that the story is set in 1975, except for references to "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" and "King of the Road," songs that are barely familiar to my generation, let alone to kids born in 2004. In fact, I had trouble imagining the child who would connect with this book on any level. The three girls all speak like mini-adults, and there is so much doom and gloom in each of their stories that only kids with truly depressing backgrounds might even understand all that they are going through. Because of Winn Dixie was such a child-friendly story, with a structure that really guided the reader through the literary text. This book is much more pretentious, almost as though the author is showing off how beautifully she can write, or trying to write a Newbery winner. I will truly be disappointed if this book wins the Newbery, because I don't think it will stand up to multiple close readings, but given how much all the librarians already love it - and the fact that DiCamillo has won twice before, and also has an honor book - I can't say I would be surprised. But award considerations aside, I don't see this as a book for children, and it's not something I will recommend.
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Reading Progress

May 28, 2016 – Shelved
May 28, 2016 – Shelved as: library-books-to-read
June 7, 2016 – Started Reading
June 7, 2016 –
page 102
June 8, 2016 –
page 164
June 9, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016
June 9, 2016 – Shelved as: genre-realistic-fiction
June 9, 2016 – Shelved as: level-middle-grade
June 9, 2016 – Finished Reading

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