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Raymie needs to learn how to twirl a baton to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. She hopes her father, who has run away with a dental hygienist, will see her picture in the paper and return home. At least that’s her plan.

That plan falls apart when she gets to know her fellow baton-twirling classmates, Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski, whose outrageous characters create all manner of mischief and adventure.

At first it’s hard to see where the offbeat situations will end up, but two-time Newberry Medal winner DiCamillo is a master at drawing together the various strands of a plot to deliver a strong message, particularly for young girls, about hope and courage in the face of adversity. This book is best for ages 10 and up. (Candlewick)

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