According to a Monday announcement from Entertainment Weekly, beloved children's author Kate DiCamillo's new book, Raymie Nightingale , will hit store shelves on April 12, 2016. The upcoming title is the author's seventh release, following a laundry list of bestsellers that includes Because of Winn-Dixie and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. DiCamillo's fans are ecstatic.
Having grown up reading Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tiger Rising, I have to say I'm pretty excited about Raymie Nightingale, despite having aged far out of DiCamillo's target demographic. She has built a career on producing coming-of-age children's novels filled with lovable animals and just a teeny hint of magic, and her storytelling skills have not gone unnoticed. DiCamillo's 2013 novel, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, won her a second Newberry Medal in 10 years, following 2004 winner The Tale of Despereaux.
Raymie Nightingale follows a 10-year-old Floridian girl who plans to break up her father's love affair with a dental hygienist by winning a local beauty pageant. Surely, she thinks, he'll come back home when he sees what a great kid he left behind. Although there's no animal gracing the cover of her book, DiCamillo assures fans that "[s]omething shows up" over the course of the novel. I've got five more reasons why they should be excited.
It's Going To Be Heartwarming, Just Like All Of DiCamillo's Books
I know the idea of a child trying to get her separated parents back together is really kind of heartbreaking, but Raymie is sure to be a tragic figure in the vein of Because of Winn-Dixie's Opal, whose mother left and never returned. You shouldn't hold your breath in anticipation of a fairy-tale ending for this little girl, but you can expect a happy conclusion, nevertheless.
DiCamillo's father abandoned her family in the 1970s, and she admits Raymie Nightingale might be a bit autobiographical, although that wasn't her intention during the writing process. She does say, however, that she wanted to "tell this story right," so fans can look forward to an authentic representation of fractured families.
It Centers On The Little Miss Central Florida Tire Pageant
Raymie sets out to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, convinced that seeing her picture in the paper will compel her wayward father to return. It's a ridiculous concept, of course, but it has exactly the kind of quirk that made DiCamillo's previous novels so lovable.
It's Somewhat Inspired By Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby Novels
We all — I hope — grew up reading about spunky trouble-maker Ramona Quimby. She and sister Beezus got their own feature film in 2010, and there was even a TV show, if you can believe it. In her interview with EW, DiCamillo says, "I loved Ramona so much... Beverly Cleary was certainly very much on my mind when I started." What this means for Raymie Nightingale is anyone's guess, but, knowing both authors, it's bound to be fabulous.
It's Full Of... Interesting Characters
These days, there are plenty of jokes about Floridians to go around, but DiCamillo's books make the rumors seem true. She distills Southern grit into a kid-friendly version, giving us almost-broken children and adults with dark pasts. In her quest to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire crown, Raymie meets Beverly, a criminal-in-the-self-making who is convinced that child star and fellow competitor Louisiana is running some kind of con. It's an irony that will keep you laughing throughout this lighthearted book.