Released April 12, 2016.
The amazing Kate DiCamillo does it again with another winning novel for middle grade readers. Raymie has a plan to get her father to return to the family. If she can just win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire pageant, she knows she will have her picture in the paper and gain her father’s attention and he just might come back home. Her mother hasn’t been the same since he ran off with a dental hygienist. And that is why Raymie is attending baton twirling classes during the summer. But the classes aren’t going like Raymie had expected. One girl, Louisiana Elefante, has fainted and the other, Beverly Tapinski, is just out to sabotage the pageant, not win it. Then there is the matter of the pageant requiring them to do good deeds, something that is harder that one might expect. Soon an unlikely friendship springs up between the three girls, each facing their own form of abandonment and discovering their own ability to rescue themselves.
This book reads so beautifully. The language pulls you in, embraces you and you happily immerse yourself in the world that a master storyteller has built for you. It’s a world filled with three girls who are vibrantly human and each completely distinct from one another without using any tropes or stereotypes. In other words, it’s wildly refreshing to have three girls depicted as unique and very special.
And what a treat to also have a book about girls that is not also about boys and attraction even though it is about pageants. Instead this is a book about girl power in a way that is subtle and strikingly honest. The writing is clever and wonderfully witty with little moments that capture life whether it is today or in 1975. It is a book that celebrates individuals and their own ability to make the world a better place just by being themselves, and also by trying to do a good deed every so often.
Brilliantly written with glorious girl characters, this novel is a summer treat from start to finish. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from ARC received from Candlewick Press.