by Kate DiCamillo
5th Grade and up
“There were three of them, three girls.”
Raymie, “flexing her toes and isolating her objectives”, and her two unlikely companions: Beverly, looking permanently fierce, and Louisiana, who is decked out in pink and a mass of hair barrettes for luck. These girls are enrolled with this alarming character to learn baton twirling in order to compete in the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition.
Marvelous kids, appalling circumstances: a dead-beat dad, a mother with a fist, a lovable but klepto grandmother, and other sadly deficient grown-ups. How’s a kid to figure it all out? But they do somehow, through friendship, daring, and resourcefulness. This is a whimsical, funny-sad story. It isn’t necessarily a book only for young readers. It can take you back to your childhood and the sometime obsessive need one had to fix important stuff that had become unraveled, because somehow you felt that only you could. DiCamillo captures the sense of all that.
One of my all time favorite children’s books is The Tale of Despereaux. This novel is so different but shows the depth and range of this wonderful author.