“I’ve got a question for you,” she said. “Have you ever in your life come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on you?”

Raymie didn’t even have to think about the answer to this question. “Yes,” she said.

“Duh,” said Beverly.

I bought Raymie Nightingale back in May last year, after I saw lots of people on library twitter talking about it. It’s gorgeous, a decent-sized hardback with lovely soft paper, and it looked very pretty on my shelf for the ten months that it sat unread. And then I read it in a day, on my commute and then in Waterstones cafe between work and a meeting.

Raymie needs to learn to twirl a baton, and to do a good deed, so that she can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, so that her father will see her picture in the paper, and come home. At baton-twirling lessons, she meets Beverly, whose father is a cop, and Louisiana, whose parents were acrobats, and together they become The Three Rancheros. Raymie Nightingale is heart-warming in a gentle sort of way, the kind of adventure that would have felt absolutely possible if I had read it aged 9 or so, with the kinds of characters that are a wrench to leave at the end of the book. It’s funny, and hopeful, and desperately sad, and I’m going to pass it on to my niece, who I think will love it, too.

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