Because of Winn Dixie

By Kate DiCamillo (Walker books)

Ages 8+

“It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humour.”  When ten-year-old India Opal Buloni meets a huge scrawny-looking dog running loose in the Winn-Dixie grocery store she is inextricably drawn to him.  Called Opal by her father, a kind but preoccupied preacher, she is a little girl in need of some loving and kindness and this dog seems destined for her. “I had never before in my life seen a dog smile, but that is what he did. He pulled back his lips and showed me all his teeth. Then he wagged so hard that he knocked some oranges off display and they went rolling everywhere…”

Naming him Winn Dixie, the two become inseparable and the story that follows is a touching and heart-warming tale of how one dog opens up everyone’s hearts, from her father, who finally begins to tell her the story of her mother who left them seven years ago, to the cast of characters in the small southern US town they have moved to. Most of all Winn-Dixie opens and heals Opal’s heart and steals ours in the process.  We all want a dog like Winn-Dixie!  Reading this book reminds me of the precious role a pet can play in a child’s life. The book touches on topics like alcoholism (Opal’s mother and a character, Gloria Dump), death and the importance of not judging anyone, from the kindly criminal Otis to the bossy Dewberry boys and the pinch-faced Amanda Wilkinson.

Kate DiCamillo is an award winning author and has been named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2014–2015. Other books include Flora & Ullyses, Bink and Gollie and The Tale of Desperaux. Because of Winn-Dixie was her first book and it become a bestseller almost immediately.  I love success stories like that. She says: “When we read together, we connect. Together, we see the world. Together, we see one another.”  Because of Winn-Dixie was also made into a movie which my kids have loved.


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