Parents' Guide to

Raymie Nightingale

By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Tragedy, triumph, and wisdom in funny, heartfelt tween tale.

Raymie Nightingale Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 10+

Don't underestimate your tween

My daughter, who just turned 11, and I still enjoy reading together. Her school has assigned both Winn Dixie and Edward Tulane in recent years and she loved them both so we're more or less reading the DiCamillo canon together now. While all her novels touch on adult themes, this one really packs a punch - affairs, poverty, abuse, aging and death. It sounds over the top but truthfully it's not - the book acknowledges the reality tweens see around them, which we adults hope to gloss over. Or we're too busy dealing with these major life events and forget to check in on our children. I was glad we read this together so we could stop and talk about the choices the adults made, as well as the kids. But I have to admit my daughter surprised me with her understanding and maturity. Reading together also allowed us to talk about life in the 70s, without cell phones, etc. There is a huge lesson for adults in this book: the adults Raymie relies on to ground her as she deals with the very recent departure of her father are not close family - it's a lifesaving instructor from the previous summer, her father's receptionist, a nurse at a hospital ER. So, fellow grownups, remember this when you interact with a child - any child. Your small acts of kindness and patience could be a lifeline for someone you hardly know, for years to come.

This title has:

Great messages
age 12+

One of the most heartwretching yet beautiful I've read

Kate DiCamillo does an outstanding job telling the story of Raymie and how she meets two girls named Louisiana and Beverly at a baton twirling class. Raymie has learned that her father left her motehr for a younger woman, and she hopes that winning a beauty pagant will inspire him to come back. Raymie's friends also deal with a lot of emotional and psychological trauma as well (Louisiana is under the care of her "eccentric" grandmother as they are in poverty and Beverly suffers from implied verbal and emotional abuse at the hand of her mother). Their interactions with one another are meaningful and powerful, showing the beautiful bond these three girls share. It's a short read but its message of self-love is so fundamental for young tweens and teens.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (4):

Kate DiCamillo returns to the small-town Florida of her childhood in this poignant, funny, triumphant tale of a determined 10-year-old and her friends trying to set their messed-up world to rights. Readers will relate to the struggles of RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE to perform the miraculous feat she thinks will bring back her faithless father, empathize with her and her friends as they deal with circumstances beyond their control, and cheer them on in their imaginatively weird exploits. Along the way, there are plenty of instances of life's random cruelty and a recognition that you can't change a lot of things -- but you can fix some of them, and it feels great:

"The world went on.

"People left and people died and people went to memorial services and put orange blocks of cheese into their purses. People confessed to you that they were hungry all the time. And then you got up in the morning and pretended that none of it had happened.

"You took your baton to baton-twirling lessons and stood under Ida Nee's whispering pine trees in front of Lake Clara, where Clara Wingtip had drowned. You waited with Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski for Ida Nee to show up and teach you how to twirl a baton.

"The world -- unbelievably, inexplicably -- went on."

Book Details

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