As the April 12 release date for Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo’s latest novel, Raymie Nightingale, approaches, publisher Candlewick Press has kicked off an in-depth marketing campaign to promote the coming-of-age tale. Promotion for the book, about a 10-year-old girl who thinks entering and winning a beauty pageant will convince her estranged father to rejoin the family, includes a robust social media campaign and author events around the country.

“A new Kate novel is always treated as a publishing event, and we were thrilled with the opportunity to plot out a yearlong marketing plan and publicity roll-out to support the publication,” said Tracy Miracle, publicity and marketing campaigns director at Candlewick.

The book’s release follows DiCamillo’s second Newbery Medal win for her previous book, Flora & Ulysses, in 2014. She also recently wrapped up a two-year term as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. “We knew the appetite among her readers and fans for a new release would be incredibly high,” Miracle said.

In addition to a 20-city author tour and appearances at key trade conferences, Candlewick has partnered with the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance to introduce One Book, One South, Jr. Since the program’s launch in 2013, the organization has selected adult titles as a way to reach out to consumers and fans of Southern literature, as well as booksellers. This year marks the first time that SIBA has chosen a children’s book for the program. Despite the novel’s target audience of middle-schoolers, SIBA anticipates that it will have crossover appeal.

DiCamillo told PW, “The thing that is doubly amazing about all this is they’ve done the One Book One South program, but they’ve never done it with a book for kids. It’s such an astonishingly wonderful thing. The book takes place in Florida. So to get all the kids in the South reading the same book is amazing.”

SIBA member bookstores will coordinate promotional efforts – both in-store and online – throughout the month of April. It will culminate in a May 6 Facebook event to cap off Children’s Book Week. Readers will be encouraged to submit questions for DiCamillo in advance. Bookstores will also connect with librarians and teachers in their communities, and will be encouraged to feature Raymie Nightingale in newsletters and displays.

“We’re very excited about One Book, One South, Jr. and Kate DiCamillo’s participation,” said SIBA executive director Wanda Jewell. “SIBA believes that independent bookstores are vital to the success of any book, and when they get behind one they love, there is no stopping them. Raymie Nightingale is that kind of a book.”

Raymie Nightingale is loosely based on DiCamillo’s own childhood in Clermont, Fla. “It’s funny because it’s entirely made up, that story, but it feels to me just like the way that small town felt when I was growing up,” she said. “It’s very much born of my childhood there. When I started off to write the book I thought it was just going to be a funny thing about a kid entering a beauty pageant and failing miserably, and it morphed into something else entirely. It’s really about how you’re affected by loss and the love you find in friendship and community.”

A special signed and numbered edition of the novel, with a bound-in essay on the joys of books and bookstores, will be offered exclusively on National Independent Bookstore Day on April 30. DiCamillo will also make an appearance at her local indie, Common Good Bookstore in St. Paul, Minn.

This is her way of saying thank you to booksellers, DiCamillo said, attributing much of her success to independent stores embracing her 2001 debut novel Because of Winn-Dixie. “It changed my whole life,” she said.

She added, “Because I was a person who worked in a bookstore, I know how much of what has happened to me is a product of librarians, of course, and booksellers, who literally stand there and hand-sell the books. Nothing would have happened to me without the librarians and booksellers putting the book in the hands of the parents and the kids. I’m so grateful to them for all they’ve done for me.”