By Kate DiCamillo (Walker books)
“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.