So, I read this book that everyone has been so excited about. It is a book that I keep hearing so many wonderful things about. I like the author. She seems to be great with kids. I loved her first books, but this new one which everyone has been waiting for just didn’t make it for me.
Kate DiCamillo’s new book Raymie Nightingale just seemed to sit there. I was waiting to go Oh, this is just great! but I never did. There are hints of Because of Winn Dixie in the setting and characters. There are places where I was sure this book was going to take off and I would end up going Yes! but it did not.
I found the short sentences and short chapters choppy. I kept trying to put on the eyes of a fourth or fifth grader but it didn’t help. The parts are all there, but for some reason it didn’t come together in a comfortable whole. She connects to history with a date but never really needs to for the story line.
There are rich topics that come to the surface as you learn more and more about each character. I liked that you discover the truth about each person along the way and how that helps build their friendships and their understanding of each other. There were lots of places for emotional depth but it fell short.
I have been told over and over again: When you write, don’t tell; show. At times Kate seems to fall into tell instead of show. She often returns to telling us Raymie’s soul was hiding or expanding. This seems to break the story line for me and pulled me out and into watching mode.
It now has me wondering about Because of Winn Dixie and Tiger Rising. Did they have choppy sentences as well? Did they step into big emotional issues and the leave them hanging? It has been years, so at least Raymie has me interested in going back and re-reading those books to see if I can figure out what I think is missing from this last book of Kate’s.
Sorry, Kate. I wanted to like it but I just don’t. I am interested to see what real fourth- and fifth-graders think of it.
What do you think?