More Magic from Kate DiCamillo….

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Last week had elements of magic. It was book fair week, the new school library is more beautiful every day, and at night I was reading Raymie Nightingale, Kate DiCamillo’s new novel.

As always, there were memorable moments at the book fair. One of my favorites was a group of middle school students putting books aside to look at later. Here are some of their “hold” piles:

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A seventh grade girl asked for my help in narrowing her selection. We made categories: books on the summer reading list; depressing novels that middle school students like; People magazine in book form (the teen version of airplane reading); dystopian fiction; and well reviewed books that I’m encouraged to read and would probably enjoy.

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My advice was to select books from different categories – we all need a varied reading diet.  It was somewhat arduous, but she got there and is ready for summer reading season….

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Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo will enter a group of memorable characters: Opal, Despereaux, Mercy Watson, Bink and Gollie, Flora – and now Raymie. At the opening of DiCamillo’s new middle grade novel, Raymie’s father has left town with a dental hygienist. Raymie’s plan to get him back is to win the Miss Central Florida Tire pageant. She thinks that if her dad sees her picture in the newspaper, he will return home.  Of course, things don’t go according to plan, but as always in DiCamillo’s fiction, the wisdom and optimism shine through.

Central to Raymie’s plan to win the pageant is taking baton twirling lessons. It’s there that she meets two quirky girls: Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski. Like Raymie, Louisiana and Beverly have lost something and although the three girls are very different, they form a valuable friendship that allows them to navigate their individual tragedies.

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Raymie Nightingale is reminiscent of Because of Winn-Dixie. In both books, a young girl dealing with loss learns that love and hope have power to overcome life’s inevitable sadnesses.

The magic continues outside of my window at school as we watch the new Library going up – there are windows!  During these warm days, I can step outside and imagine sharing a new space with Opal and Raymie, Wilbur and Charlotte, Harry and Hermione and thousands of other characters….

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