In her seventh novel, international bestselling author and twice winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal Kate DiCamillo tells a masterful story that blends pathos and humour. Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father – who has run away with a dental hygienist – will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton, but she has to compete with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante with her show-business background and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship – and challenge them to come to each other’s rescue in unexpected ways.
Set in 1975, this tender novel shows how even when life seems out of one's control people die, parents disappoint persistence and belief pay off. The story is told from the perspective of Raymie Clarke, whose father has just run off with a dental hygienist. Raymie, however, has a plan to bring him back: she will win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire contest, get her picture in the paper, and her father will come running home. The plan inspires her to take a baton-twirling class, where she meets Beverly Tapinski a girl with a chip on her shoulder, who vows to sabotage the contest and ingenuous Louisiana Elefante, an orphan who claims to be the daughter of the famous Flying Elefantes. With extraordinary skill, two-time Newbery Medalist DiCamillo traces the girls' growing trust in each other while using understated confessionals and subtly expressed yearnings to show how tragedies have affected each of them. The book culminates with a daring cat-rescue mission: fraught with adventure, danger, and a miracle or two, the escapade reveals how love and compassion can overcome even the highest hurdles. Ages 10 up.