Every last little bit of detail mentioned in Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale is put to good use before this sweet and funny book comes to an end. Based on previous books I knew it was going to be good, but was unsure how Kate would manage it [the sweet and funny ending] this time. No need for concern, as she knows how to write a book.
Set in the 1960s in Florida, ten-year-old Raymie has just lost her father, to a dental hygienist. She has worked out that by learning to twirl a baton she can get him back, which is why we find her having a rather failed baton-twirling lesson in chapter one.
What she does achieve in this lesson, is finding two new friends, both of whom also have needs that require dealing with. Together they set about breaking into a nursing home and rescuing a dead cat. Not at the same time, obviously.
This is very, very special, and I marvel at the mind of anyone who can come up with these ideas. The story benefits from having adult characters who don’t need to be killed off, as they are nicely quirky individuals with strong opinions of their own, fitting in well with the plot.