One of our recommended books for 2019 is Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo

BEVERLY, RIGHT HERE


Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still.
This was what Beverly wanted — what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.

Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home;

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Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still.
This was what Beverly wanted — what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.

Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, who has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help forming connections with the people around her — and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes. In a touching, funny, and fearless conclusion to her sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros, #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a character who will break your heart and put it back together again.

Revisiting once again the world of Raymie Nightingale, two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo turns her focus to the tough-talking, inescapably tenderhearted Beverly.
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  • Candlewick Press
  • Hardcover
  • September 2019
  • 256 Pages
  • 9780763694647

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About Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo is the author of Beverly, RIght HereKate DiCamillo is one of America’s most beloved storytellers. She is a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and a two-time Newbery Medalist. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in Florida and now lives in Minneapolis.

Praise

“DiCamillo writes in a spare style, describing small, seemingly disparate moments that gradually come together in a rich, dynamic picture. The other thing she does brilliantly is shape characters whose eccentricities make them heartbreakingly, vividly real, like Elmer, whose acne-covered face is a mask that hides his humanity; Freddie, the young waitress with great expectations that are colored by untruths; and owlish Iola Jenkins, whose willingness to take a chance on Beverly counts for everything. Thoughtful and hopeful in equal measure.” Booklist (starred review)

“This thoughtful companion to two-time Newbery Medal–winner DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana’s Way Home follows Beverly Tapinski, the third of the Three Rancheros, in August 1979—four years after the first book’s events…Secondary characters—sensitive teen store clerk Elmer, who’s interested in art; bingo enthusiast Iola; and the staff of Mr. C’s—are well defined through concise narrative and dialogue, and DiCamillo builds them into a new community that matters a great deal to Beverly. But it’s Beverly’s private moments—thoughts of the other Rancheros, a message revealed, a love for the term lapis lazuli—that move her from being a person in flight to a present, whole participant in her world.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Drawn with unusual depth, the members of Beverly’s small community emerge as complex individuals but also, collectively, as a force for change and goodwill—just like the three friends who began this journey together.” The Horn Book (starred review)

“In this third book about the girls, DiCamillo mixes familiar ingredients: absent parents, disparate friends, the ability to drive a car, the power of generosity, and the satisfaction of a big celebratory meal…simply told and progressing in real time, readers encounter this world through Beverly’s eyes and mind, finding pleasure in small things, appreciating friends of all sorts, coming to terms with losses, and moving on. A satisfying read that stands alone but is richer for its company.” Kirkus Reviews

“In her signature style of short, accessible prose sprinkled with carefully chosen, meaningful words, DiCamillo once again tells extraordinary stories with ordinary characters….This is not a lighthearted book, but it is heartwarming and touching. Highly recommended.” —School Library Journal

Discussion Questions

1. Beverly says that she had run away from home plenty of times, but this time was different, because she was leaving. What does she mean by this?

2. When Beverly goes into Mr. C’s to apply for a job, Freddie says to Beverly, “This is the end of the road unless you have a dream” (page 16). How does this apply to the people who work there? Freddie calls not having a dream “dead-end, one-road thinking. You have to engage in open-ended, multi-road thinking,” she says (page 46). What does this mean to you? Do you think Freddie will realize her dreams?

3. The only time we hear from Beverly’s mother is on page 18, when Beverly calls her from a phone booth to tell her she is okay. What do you learn about her mother from that short conversation? About Beverly’s relationship with her mother? When Beverly looks up in the phone booth, she sees the phrase “In a crooked little house by a crooked little sea.” How does this become important to her? How does it apply to her situation?

4. “Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds” is a line from a poem that Beverly had to memorize in school. The poem, “High Flight,” was written by John Gillespie Magee Jr., an airman who was killed at age nineteen in 1941 when the plane he was piloting collided with another over England. What do you think the phrase means to Beverly?

5. Iola and Beverly have different ideas about trust. What does each one think? Why? Do Beverly’s ideas about trust change throughout the book?

6. The names of Iola’s cats, past and present, are taken from the poem by Eugene Field “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.” Later in the book, Beverly’s friend Elmer recites some of the lines. Find and read the entire poem, then discuss why you think the author used it.

7. Equity is very important to Doris, the cook at the seafood restaurant. What is equity? What does she do to try to attain it in the restaurant? How does each of the employees react to Doris’s actions? Do things change for the employees? In what ways?

8. On page 67, Beverly thinks about how she does not want to be a comfort to anyone. Why do you think she feels that way?

9. Freddie’s boyfriend, Jerome, reminds Beverly of her mother’s boyfriends: “stupid and desperate and sometimes mean” (page 77). After meeting him in the restaurant, she steals his graduation tassel from his truck. Why do you think she did that? Later, when Beverly finds a Christmas photo of Mr. Denby and his family, she takes it. What is her motive for this? Is it the same reason that she took Jerome’s tassel?

10. When Beverly first sees Elmer, he is sitting behind the counter at a convenience store reading a book that has an angel with glorious blue wings on the cover. How do that color and that angel become important to Beverly? What do you know about Elmer from the books he reads?

11. Many chapters in the novel end with someone going into or coming out of a house or building. What do you think the author is saying with this? Examples include pages 71, 85, 103, and 109.

12. On page 105, Mr. Larksong shows Beverly a photo of the painting The Song of the Lark by Jules Breton. The painting is remarkable because there is no bird or musical instrument in it, yet you can tell the girl is listening. Find a reproduction of the painting so you can see how the artist accomplished this. Using a similar technique, how would you paint something you cannot see, like the wind?

13. There are many kinds of truths, such as the ones the religious woman outside Zoom City imparts through her stick-figure cartoons, or the ones Iola lives by. How do you choose your truths? How do you decide what or whom to believe? In one instance of truth versus lies, Beverly thinks that the happiness shown in her boss’s Christmas photo is a lie and that most photos are lies. What do you think?

14. To Beverly, the color pink, which is usually associated with happy, light things, is ominous because it reminds her of “princesses and beauty contests and her mother and lies” (page 125). What do you know about that part of Beverly’s life? Are there any colors that affect you strongly? What are they, and why do they affect you the way they do?

15. Jerome’s behavior as described by Elmer is classic cruel bullying. Is there bullying in your school? What does it consist of? Elmer says, “There are Jeromes everywhere you go. You can never get away from the Jeromes of the world” (page 158). Do you believe this? Can bullying be stopped?

16. Often there is a seagull at the door of the restaurant kitchen, but Doris makes sure that he never enters. What do you think the presence of the seagull means? Why?

17. Beverly chooses to stay with the cooks in the restaurant kitchen when they are on strike. “Outside the open door, past the seagull and the dumpsters and the hotels, there was a small strip of ocean visible. It was a bright, sparkling blue. Not as bright as lapis lazuli. But bright enough. Beverly suddenly felt as if she were exactly where she was supposed to be” (page 185). What has made Beverly think this?

18. At the end of the book, Raymie is on her way to pick up Beverly and take her home. What do you think of this ending? Is it good that Beverly is going home? How do you think she will readjust? How has Beverly changed since she left home?

Excerpt

ONE

Buddy died, and Beverly buried him, and then she set off toward Lake Clara.

She went the back way, through the orange groves. When she cut out onto Palmetto Lane, she saw her cousin Joe Travis Joy standing out in front of his mother’s house.

Joe Travis was nineteen years old. He had red hair and a tiny little red beard and a red Camaro, and a job roofing houses in Tamaray Beach.

Beverly didn’t like him all that much.

“Hey,” said Joe Travis when he saw Beverly.

“I thought you moved to Tamaray,” said Beverly.

“I did. I’m visiting is all.” “When are you going back?” she said.

“Now,” said Joe Travis.

Beverly thought, Buddy is dead — my dog is dead. They can’t make me stay. I’m not staying. No one can make me stay.

And so she left.

 

“What are you going to Tamaray for?” said Joe Travis. “You got friends there or something?”

They were in the red Camaro. They were on the highway.

Beverly didn’t answer Joe Travis. Instead, she stared at the green-haired troll hanging from the rearview mirror. She thought how the troll looked almost exactly like Joe Travis except that its hair was the wrong color and it didn’t have a beard. Also, it seemed friendlier.

Joe Travis said, “Do you like ZZ Top?”

Beverly shrugged.

“You want a cigarette?” said Joe Travis.

“No,” said Beverly.

“Suit yourself.” Joe Travis lit a cigarette, and Beverly rolled down the window.

“Hey,” said Joe Travis. “I got the AC on.”

Beverly leaned her face into the hot air coming through the open window. She said nothing.

They went the whole way to Tamaray Beach with one window down and the air-conditioning on full blast. Joe Travis smoked six cigarettes and ate one strip of beef jerky. In between the cigarettes and the beef jerky, he tapped his fi ngers on the steering wheel.

The little troll rocked back and forth — blown about by gusts of air-conditioning and wind, smiling an idiotic smile.

Why were trolls always smiling, anyway?

Every troll Beverly had ever seen had a gigantic smile plastered on its face for absolutely no good reason.

When they got to the city limits, Beverly said, “You can let me out anywhere.”

“Well, where are you headed?” said Joe Travis. “I’ll take you there.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” said Beverly. “Let me out.”

“You don’t got to be so secretive. Just tell me where you’re going and I’ll drop you off.” “No,” said Beverly.

“Dang it!” said Joe Travis. He slapped his hand on the steering wheel. “You always did think that you was better than everybody else on God’s green earth.”

“No, I didn’t,” said Beverly.

“Same as your mother,” said Joe Travis.

“Ha,” said Beverly.

“You ain’t,” said Joe Travis. “Neither one of you is any better. You ain’t better at all. I don’t care how many beauty contests your mama won back in the day.” He stomped on the brakes. He pulled over to the side of the road.

“Get out,” said Joe Travis.

“Thanks for the ride,” said Beverly.

“Don’t you thank me,” said Joe Travis.

“Okay,” said Beverly. “Well, anyway— thanks.”

She got out of the Camaro and slammed the door and started walking down A1A in the opposite direction of Joe Travis Joy.

It was hot.

It was August.

It was 1979.

Beverly Tapinski was fourteen years old.

 

TWO

She had run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid.

It wasn’t running away this time, she figured. It was leaving.

She had left.

Beverly walked down the side of A1A. She had on an old pair of flip-flops, and it didn’t take long for her feet to start hurting. Cars went zooming past her, leaving behind hot gusts of metallic air.

She saw a sign with a pink seahorse painted on it. She stopped. She stared at the seahorse. He was smiling and chubby-cheeked. There were a lot of little bubbles coming out of his mouth, and then one big bubble that had the words SEAHORSE COURT, AN RV COMMUNITY written inside of it.

Past the sign, there was a ground-up seashell drive that led to a bunch of trailers. A woman was standing in front of a pink trailer holding a hose, spraying a sad bunch of flowers.

The woman raised her hand and waved. “Howdy, howdy!” she shouted.

“Right,” said Beverly. “Howdy.”

She started walking again. She looked down at her feet. “Howdy,” she said to them. “Howdy.”

She would get a job.

That’s what she would do.

How hard could it be to get a job? Joe Travis had done it.

After the Seahorse Court, there was a motel called the Seaside End and then there was a restaurant called Mr. C’s.

  1. C’S IS YOUR LUNCH SPOT! said the sign. WE COOK YOU ALL THE FISH IN THE C!

Beverly hated fish.

She walked across the blacktop parking lot. It was almost entirely empty. She went up to the restaurant and opened the door.

It was cool and dark inside. It smelled like grease. And also fish.

“Party of one?” said a girl with a lot of blond hair. She was wearing a name tag that said Welcome to Mr. C’s! I’m Freddie.

From somewhere in the darkness, off to the left, there came the ping and hum of a video game.

“I’m looking for a job,” said Beverly.

“Here?” said Freddie.

“Is there a job here?”

“Mr. Denby!” shouted Freddie. “Hey, someone out here wants a job. Who knows why.” Beverly looked to the right, past Freddie. She could see a dining room with blue chairs and blue tablecloths, and a big window that looked out on the ocean. The brightness of the room, the blueness of it, hurt her eyes.

She remembered, suddenly, that Buddy was dead. And then she wished she hadn’t remembered.

“Forget it,” she said out loud.

“Forget what?” said Freddie.

“We’re getting ready to close, anyway. This is just a lunch restaurant.” And then she shouted again, “Mr. Denby! Hey, Mr. Denby!” She rolled her eyes. “I guess I have to do everything around here.”

She walked off down the dark hallway. A minute later, she was back. A man with a mustache was walking behind her. There was a red crease on the man’s forehead, and he had on a gigantic tie imprinted with little yellow fish.

“This is Mr. Denby,” said Freddie. “He was asleep. Can you believe it?”

Mr. Denby blinked.

“He had his head down on the desk and everything,” said Freddie. “He was snoring.”

“I was not snoring,” said Mr. Denby. “I was not sleeping. I was resting my eyes. Paperwork is hard on the eyes. Freddie says that you want a job.”

“Yes,” said Beverly.

“Well, we do need someone to bus tables. I’ll have to interview you, I suppose.”

“What’s your name?” said Freddie.

“Beverly,” said Beverly.

“I’ll get right on it, Mr. Denby,” said Freddie.

“You’ll get right on what?” said Mr. Denby. He rubbed at the red mark on his forehead.

“You spell Beverly with a B, right?” said Freddie.

“Right,” said Beverly.

“Follow me,” said Mr. Denby. The video game pinged and chortled. Mr. Denby headed down the dark hallway.

Beverly wasn’t a big fan of following people.

But Buddy was dead.

What mattered now?

Not much.

Nothing really.

She followed Mr. Denby.