Author: Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo Returns: RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE

Kate DiCamillo Returns: RAYMIE NIGHTINGALERaymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Published by Candlewick Press on April 12th 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Realistic
Pages: 272
Goodreads
five-stars

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

It’s high time I shared my thoughts with you about the new Kate DiCamillo book. Let me say this—when I heard a new book by Kate was coming out, my level of excitement spiked! You know that I adore her books, including THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT, and THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, among others.

And now we have RAYMIE. RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE.

group excited

It’s true. Kate DiCamillo has created another endearing and delightful character that will remain in the hearts of readers for many days to come after they have turned the page of the newest book from Kate, published this past April.

I was lucky enough to borrow an ARC from Porter Square Books, and had to stop myself from devouring the book in one sitting. I wanted it to last so tried to take my time (I probably read it in three days!).

I can safely say, it’s wonderful! The story was everything I hoped it to be…and even more. Kate’s storytelling is masterful, and I would venture to say this is a strong contender for the Newbery…

The story is inspired by Kate’s own life, and though this is certainly a “made up” narrative as Kate says in the beginning of the book, it is “the absolutely true story of my heart.” In other words, this book gives us a glimpse even further into the author’s mind and heart, and I would say that the book carries a spiritual aspect for that very reason. In reading this book, I felt like I was connecting with Kate in a new way, and that can be a profound thing!

Quotes that Made Me Think

(Beverly) “I tell you what: Fear is a big waste of time. I’m not afraid of anything.”

“Just then, the sun managed to come around the corner of Isabelle’s window and throw itself into a small square of light on the floor. It was very bright. It shimmered. It looked like the window to another universe.”

“She could feel her soul. It was a tiny little spark somewhere deep inside of her. It was glowing.”

“For just a minute, she understood everything in the whole world.”

The story highlights the friendship among three girls—Raymie, Louisiana, and Beverly. Let me tell you: I love this trio! Beverly is snarky and interesting, Louisiana is surprising and persistent, and Raymie is seeking to fill up her soul. You can imagine that there are mishaps galore, but at the heart of it is a girl who wishes she could win a pageant so that her father will take note and return home. Along with this, though, and even more, is the desire of Raymie’s to fill up her soul. The language that Kate uses in the story to reflect what Raymie is thinking about and wondering reflects a spirituality that I found thought-provoking and authentic. I love the way Kate’s books get to the heart of the big questions in life, all through the window of these endearing child characters.

I don’t want to give away a lot from the story, because it’s just too much of a gem, so this review will be a bit short.

The fact is: you really need to buy a copy and read it. So…Tell me what you think when you do!

side eye dalmations

This one is worthy of all the STARS!

five-stars
What Katie Read

Waiting on Wednesday for Raymie Nightingale (2016) by Kate DiCamillo

Waiting on Wednesday for Raymie Nightingale (2016) by Kate DiCamilloRaymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Published by Candlewick Press on April 12th 2016
Pages: 272
Goodreads

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

New WoW

There’s no denying that Kate DiCamillo is a master of children’s literature and I will read and purchase and promote and dance and jump up and down about anything she writes.

celebrate

I have sat in bookstores and read her new releases in one sitting and I have purchased and recommended and gifted many of her books over the years including The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Magician’s Elephant, The Tiger Rising, and Flora and Ulysses. You may even recall that one of the books I used for my dissertation was Edward Tulane.

Some years ago I was privileged to meet Kate and have her sign my beloved copy of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (which I actually purchased at a bookshop in Hay-on-Wye in Wales!) and the illustrator, Bagram Ibatouilline was also there to sign my book as well.

Needless to say, I am extremely beyond excited about Kate’s upcoming release from Candlewick: RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE.

Friendship. Florida. Three Girls. Little Miss Central Florida Tire Competition. That’s all you need to know. Now GO!

What Katie Read

Loving Life & Giant Donuts: Review–Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (2013) by Kate DiCamillo

Loving Life & Giant Donuts: Review–Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (2013) by Kate DiCamilloFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, K.G. Campbell
Published by Candlewick Press on September 24th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 233
Goodreads
five-stars

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.
From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell.

“He was going to leave the world without ever having tried a

giant donut.”

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (2013) by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell

Suggested age range: 7 and up (Candlewick Press, 232 pages)

“It is what I love about life, that things happen which I do not expect.” (210)

The Book: Comic-loving cynic, ten year old Flora watches her neighbor’s brand new vacuum suck up a squirrel. She races to its aid, and lo and behold, she gives it CPR! The squirrel starts breathing again, and somehow, he is now a superhero squirrel! Flora dubs him Ulysses, and this begins a series of hilarious adventures in which Ulysses reveals that he can fly, “conquer villains, defend the defenseless, and help the weak.” Can Ulysses escape Flora’s mother who wants to kill him? What’s the deal with the partially blind boy, William Spiver, who follows Flora around? Aware that the miraculous is taking place, Flora does everything she can to assist Ulysses in his adventures and most of all, love him. A squirrel who writes poetry on the typewriter, Ulysses is a character readers can’t afford not to meet!

Spirituality in Flora & Ulysses: Flora’s spirituality, her awareness that there is more to the world than she knows, is nurtured and energized through the revealing of Ulysses, the superhero squirrel. Through the events that follow, Flora discovers that hoping is a good thing, and that she doesn’t always have to be a cynic. “Do not hope, Flora thought. But she couldn’t help it. She did hope. She was hoping. She had been hoping all along” (200).

There is also the aspect of the story that speaks to the way we look at and attempt to understand other people. Are our judgments based on appearances or do we have the courage to take a deeper look into the souls of those around us? Like her other books, DiCamillo’s fantasy reflects multiple spiritual aspects that deserve closer exploration.

Exploring this Book with Readers: Readers, young and old, can probably relate to having a beloved pet. A beloved pet who is secretly a superhero may not be as common, but readers could write their own short story about their pet as superhero. Ulysses is an endearing character, and poses questions about the world readers may or may not have thought about. Which questions of Ulysses did readers wonder about and which ones would they have asked? DiCamillo includes a dose of philosophy in her story, so there is room for some good discussion with the book.

The Final Word: The wild adventures of Flora and Ulysses are fabulous! This is definitely a Newbery winner, and I am in complete agreement with the committee who decided this book should win the award. Flora works through issues with her parents, makes a new friend, and learns how to say “I love you.” Ulysses just about dies, is resurrected, and emerges a superhero, but yet he is totally dependent on Flora’s love for him. These themes make this book a winner all around.

 

five-stars
What Katie Read
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