Author: Kate DiCamillo
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: April 12th, 2016
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.
What I Think: It's a good sign when a book is filled with too many wonderful snatches of text that I can't list them all! Kate DiCamillo has done it again with Raymie Nightingale. Her words are magic spun onto the page. As a writer who is constantly thinking about show don't tell and how to get deeper into the perspective of my main character, Kate is a dream mentor text. She brings the harsh reality of life honestly to life with her words. This is not easy to do!
As a mentor text, Raymie Nightingale is wonderful for character development, dialogue, descriptive writing. Use a graphic organizer to build character maps for Raymie and her friends and the rest of the cast of characters. Students can practice making connections and making inferences about the different characters.
Part of bringing characters to life is using dialogue meaningfully. Depending on what tense we're writing in, we don't always get to see into a character's head but with dialogue, we can get some insight. Dialogue is a great way to set a character apart from others just based on what words they use. Have students compare what different characters say and how their words help us understand them better. Then ask students to try focusing on dialogue in their own writing.
Finally, look at the description in her writing as a whole. She writes as if describing a movie frame by frame. Notice the words she picks. Have students make a list of strong words from one page of text or ask them to underline the powerful words she uses. Kate uses every single word purposefully and powerfully. My favorite activity for keeping writing concise is to take a piece of writing and then to try and cut half of the words. It's amazing how sentence combining (such as Jeff Anderson recommends!) is a learning experience in how to make writing stronger. Lisa Graff says she does this and I wonder if it's part of Kate's revising process. Either way, your students will grow from the challenge!
Read Together: Grades 4 - 8
Read Alone: Grades 5 - 8
Read With: Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt, The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles, Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Snatch of Text:
"The sun was very high in the sky.
It hadn't moved.
It seemed like someone had stuck it up there and then walked away and left it." (p. 6)
"The three of them stood there looking at one another.
Raymie felt something expanding inside of her. It felt like a gigantic tent billowing out.
This, Raymie knew, was her soul." (P. 17)
"And then she thought about how in fairy tales people go three wishes and none of the wishes ever turned out right. If the wishes came true, they came true in terrible ways. Wishes were dangerious things. That was the idea you got from fairy tales.
Maybe it was smart of Beverly not to wish." (p. 91)
Topics Covered: Friendship, Family, Determination, Loyalty
I *heart* It:
*Thanks to Candlewick Press for
a copy of Raymie Nightingale n exchange for an honest review!*