Candlewick Press, 2016
Genre: middle grade, family, friendship
Source: purchased for my classroom
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Raymie's father ran off with a dental hygienist and she hasn't heard from him since. Her mother has been quiet and seems lost. But Raymie has a plan. If she can win the Little Miss Central Florida tire competition then she'll get her father back. Unfortunately, she has Louisiana Elefante, whose parents were performers, and Beverly Tapinski, who wants to sabotage the contest, in her way. In addition, she has to learn to twirl a baton, but her teacher is crazy and she hasn't learned a thing yet.
Raymie is a thoughtful and bright young girl. She's hurt and confused that her father left one day out of the blue and her mother just sits and stares now. So now she has come up with a plan to fix everything. She's managed to find an adult who will talk with her honestly in her father's secretary. She's kind and gives Raymie advice, but for the most part Raymie is on her own with the help of her two friends.
Louisiana Elefante is wispy and beautiful, sings like an angel, and faints--a lot. She's a bit kooky and claims Raymie and Beverly as her best friends almost immediately--much to Beverly's chagrin. It's difficult to ignore her, because Louisiana seems to need friends who will help her. Beverly Tapinski is sick and tired of pageants--and she's not afraid to say so. She has a tough life and covers that up by putting up a tough front that no one will mess with. Both Raymie and Louisiana annoy her, but she always seems to be helping them out since she's not afraid of anything and they are.
Told from Raymie's point of view, we learn about all three girls and watch as their friendship evolves. It's a charming story and good read for middle grade readers. There are funny parts--especially when Louisiana is in the picture--but there are also some sadder parts as the reader begins to realize more about each girl.
Kate DiCamillo writes great stories for young readers, introducing them to interesting characters who are true to life. It's easy to believe we can meet them randomly on the street one day, or find them in our own best friends. Definitely a great read for middle grade readers!