Sometimes the pain in her heart made her feel too terrified to go on. Sometimes it made her want to drop to her knees. But then she would remember that she had a plan.
And what a plan it is. Ramie Clarke is going to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Her competitors? Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski. Learning to twirl a baton from Miss Ida Nee brings the girls together in a summer they will never forget.
Louisiana, the daughter of the Flying Elefantes, could not be more unlike her throw-caution-to-the-wind parents. She is rather delicate, always fainting or wheezing, and she has a Granny who drives like a whirling dervish and who can barely see above the steering wheel. Louisiana wants to be Little Miss Central Florida Tire and win the “king’s ransom” of the prize money.
Beverly Tapinski, on the other hand, is a champion baton twirler, but she is out to sabotage the contest. When she introduces herself to Raymie, she says, “My name is Beverly Tapinski and my father is a cop, so I don’t think that you should mess with me.” Her hands are perpetually grubby, but she is someone you want on your team.
Raymie Clarke wants to win Little Miss Central Florida Tire so that her father, who ran away with a dental hygienist, will return home.
Three girls, so very different from each other, but who’s mutual mission and loneliness brings them closer than they could ever imagine. Sometimes, we find friendship is in those we least expect. It takes rescuing a library book, A Bright and Shining Path: The Life of Florence Nightingale, and rescuing each other, time and time again throughout the book, for the three girls to discover it takes friends to help you be brave, to help you carry on.
Kate DiCamillo is one of those writers who makes the reader want to hold onto every line. Reading Raymie Nightingale, your heart will ache, and it will also leave you laughing out loud. As three little girls set out to win Little Miss Central Florida Tire 1975, they will win your heart as well.
This review originally appeared on Lemuria Books.