The kids and I have been devouring Kate DiCamillo’s many books the past couple months. We just finished “Raymie Nightingale,” the first book of her The Three Rancheros trilogy about the friendship of three girls facing some difficult circumstances.
Raymie Clarke, Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski are the Three Rancheros. When we first meet the girls they are learning to twirl a baton in order to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition of 1975. Through thick and thin, the girls forge a tenacious bond where each looks out for one another with everything they’ve got.
I read the series out of order. I started at the end reading, “Beverly, Right Here” the series finale first, not realizing the book was a part of a trilogy. I found that although “Raymie Nightingale” provided some context for that book, DiCamillo wrote each to stand on their own, even if they do build on each other as well.
Raymie’s dad has just run off with his dental hygienist, Louisiana’s parents died and she moves from place to place with her granny, and Beverly lives with her overwhelmed single mom. Each girl’s circumstance is difficult in equal measures and they find strength and resilience by depending on one another. They each risk something by stepping up to help the other in different ways throughout.
I think this story is about friendship and support that comes from friends who have been in a tough spot, but is willing to look out for you when you need it the most. The message for kids (and adults alike) was very powerful. I love how DiCamillo doesn’t simplify or sanitize the circumstances for kids. They might not fully understand, but maybe they do.