Do you remember a moment from your childhood when you were forced to grow up a little? Perhaps you realized that childhood isn’t always happy. Maybe an important adult in your life proved fallible. Or perhaps you endured great hardship.
Do you remember a moment when friends became important in a way that they had not before? Did you begin to rely more on friends than family for certain things? Or maybe a lot of things? How did you celebrate those friendships?
Enter Raymie Nightingale, the latest title from the beloved and award-winning Kate DiCamillo. Is DiCamillo’s name ringing a happy bell for you right now? Of course it is! DiCamillo just wrapped up a 2-year stint as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, she is the current National Summer Reading Champion, and she is a two-time Newbury winner. DiCamillo has written heaps of highly-acclaimed books including Because of Winn-Dixie, Flora and Ulysses, The Tale of Despereaux, The Tiger Rising and – of course- the Mercy Watson series among many others.
Celebrate Friendship with DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale
* Disclosure: I received a copy of these books at no cost. I was not required to write a review and, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
When I heard DiCamillo had a new book out, I had to read it. She is one of our family’s favorites and we read oodles of books.
Set in the summer of 1975, Raymie Nightingale is the story of an unforgettable summer for three 10-year-old girls. DiCamillo, as always, writes beautifully. Her characters capture one’s heart in minutes, and the chapters are short making for the perfect summer read.
Raymie Nightingale is a story about three girls who start off as baton-wheeling competitors. Each girl wishes to win the title of Miss Central Florida Tire– all for very different reasons. Each girl believes the title will rescue her from a certain circumstance. Little do they know that, over the course of a summer, they will rescue each other.
As I read this book, I couldn’t help but wish I had read it as a tween. I could imagine my 12-year-old self, sprawled on a beach towel, with Raymie Nightingale in hand.
And while Raymie Nightingale is the type of book you’ll devour in a day or two, it is no light read. DiCamillo tackles tough subjects with grace and humor. Raymie Nightingale is real. Children can face hardship, families fall apart, grief and loss are not experiences limited to adulthood.
Fortunately, friends can help us through it all and 10-year-old Raymie has two fantastic ones. The three girls call themselves The Three Rancheros and together the unlikely trio develop deep ties. These quirky characters will have you laughing out loud through it all and you will mourn the loss of their presence when you close the book’s covers.
Looking for a fantastic friendship book for a younger audience?
My daughter has recently fallen for a new book titled My Friend Maggie written by award-winning author and illustrator, Hannah E. Harrison.
My Friend Maggie is a beautifully illustrated story of friendship. Maggie and Paula have been friends since they were babies and they have shared countless memories together. They assume they will be friends forever but then Veronica steps on the scene. Veronica thinks Maggie is “too big” and this makes Paula question her friendship with Maggie. Instead of sticking up for her friend, Paula goes the way of the crowd, ignoring Maggie. But when Veronica turns on Paula, Maggie stands up for her friend. In that one moment, Paula learns the value of a true friend.
This book made me cry! It is a story that everyone can relate to, and it is an important story to share with young children, especially if we want to raise upstanders and not bystanders! If you are looking for other ways to raise true friends, check these out:
Celebrate friendship this summer with friendship bracelets
As I was reading Raymie Nightingale and reflecting back upon the summers of my youth, when I was Raymie’s age, I couldn’t help but think of friendship bracelets. Do you remember saving up for embroidery thread and duct-taping your bracelets-in-progress on the back of the book you were engrossed in? I would alternate between reading and working on my designs.
It was glorious!
I couldn’t stop thinking about how much fun those summers were. What I wouldn’t give to read my weight in books and make bracelets all day.
Alas, those days are long gone but I do have three little people who might enjoy one such summer. And the oldest is the perfect age for friendship bracelet making.
And so I set him up with the necessary supplies and I’ve been enjoying watching him read and make bracelets as we sit poolside.
A photo posted by MyLittlePoppies (@my_little_poppies) on
And I’m enjoying every minute!
Now it’s your turn. Tell me: What do you miss about summers as a kid? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram