Book cover
Raymie Nightingale
Kate DiCamillo

I love this book, and its sequels, Louisiana’s Way Home and Beverly Right Here, with my whole heart. I’ve read them several times. My daughter and her fiancee were reading them together, and kept quoting them to me until I decided I had to read them once more.

I love the way DiCamillo portrays a child’s universe. It is magical, dangerous, confusing, and full of meaning from unsuspected sources. And of course through my eyes it is just this here – the universe we all inhabit. It is Raymie’s perspective that brings back into it some of what I’ve long since forgotten.

Raymie is such a sweet child and her harebrained schemes are so pure in their intent and so honest in their execution that you can’t help but want them to succeed even though you know they cannot.

In the hands of a lesser author they very well might succeed. There’s plenty of magic here, so why not? But Kate DiCamillo is not a lesser author. She is a genius. She gives us something so much more. Something sweet and profound and brilliant and true. The plotting is exquisite, the characterization crisp and funny and sad. There is a poetry to her writing that is distinct and beautiful. She makes frequent and artful use of parataxis, anaphora, and callback. Echoes of words and phrases reverberate through the book. It perfectly suits a child’s close interior narration. It is imminently approachable for an early reader, and yet delightfully surprising and moving for an adult.

I’m not much of a crier. I never have been. But this book and its companions always bring real tears to my eyes. When I read these books I’m reminded of the scene in the dance studio in the movie Silver Linings Playbook when Tiffany says “Do you feel that? … That’s a feeling.” Raymie’s triumphs are a feeling. Her probing simple questions of identity and purpose are a feeling. This book is full of feeling.