In the last month or so, Kate DiCamillo’s RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE has circulated through four readers spanning three generations in our family. My thirteen-year-old first pressed it into my hand with wide eyes. “Momma, you’ll love this.” She was right. I devoured it – reading deep into the night; ignoring my inner nag tut-tutting about sleep. My Mother has furtively chipped away each visit – stealing it up from my bedside. And Miss Ten was entranced by Jenna Lamia’s reading of the story during our frequent and long drives West.
No dystopia, wizardry or superheroes here. Ramie Clarke is a suburban girl with a problem and a plan. There are baton lessons, white boots and shitty cars. Strangers, crazies, lost pets. Beneath lies a darker architecture – abandonment, poverty and violence. But with restraint and careful cadence DiCamillo ultimately tells a simple and joyful story about friendship. She perfectly inhabits Raymie and a child’s view of a complex world. This story is clearly personal. Brilliant.