Because of Winn Dixie
by Kate DiCamillo
Kate DiCamillo’s beloved, best-selling debut novel is now available in a paperback digest edition.
Kate DiCamillo’s first published novel, like Winn-Dixie himself, immediately proved to be a keeper — a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor winner, the inspiration for a popular film, and most especially, a cherished classic that touches the hearts of readers of all ages. It’s now available in a paperback digest format certain to bring this tale’s magic to an even wider circle of fans.
The summer Opal and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket–and comes out with a dog. A big, ugly, suffering dog with a sterling sense of humor. A dog she dubs Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, the preacher tells Opal ten things about her absent mother, one for each year Opal has been alive. Winn-Dixie is better at making friends than anyone Opal has ever known, and together they meet the local librarian, Miss Franny Block, who once fought off a bear with a copy of WAR AND PEACE. They meet Gloria Dump, who is nearly blind but sees with her heart, and Otis, an ex-con who sets the animals in his pet shop loose after hours, then lulls them with his guitar.Opal spends all that sweet summer collecting stories about her new friends and thinking about her mother. But because of Winn-Dixie or perhaps because she has grown, Opal learns to let go, just a little, and that friendship—and forgiveness—can sneak up on you like a sudden summer storm.
My thoughts on this book:
India Opal and her father, the preacher, have moved from Watley to Naomi, Florida. Opal had to leave all her friends behind and she’s adapting to living in a new place. Her mother has abandoned her and she’s feeling very sad and lonely. Her father preaches at a church he opened that was previously a convenience store. He works too much and he struggles to move forward as he misses Opal’s mom so much. Opal wishes she had a better relationship with him. She hasn’t found very many new friends yet. After her father sends her to the local Winn-Dixie to pick up a few grocery items, she meets a dog in the produce section that will change her life forever. She names him Winn-Dixie and their relationship grows. Along with Winn-Dixie, she meets multiple people around town including Gloria, a near-blind woman who many think is a witch, a librarian named Miss Franny Block with an interesting story, an ex-convict named Otis who runs the local pet store, two really annoying boys, and two girls of different ages that she can’t seem to figure out. She soon learns that people all have their own sadness and difficulties. She realizes that she may not be the only one who’s experiences loss and sadness.
Eventually, she opens up to her father and confronts him by asking the questions she needs answered about her mother. Her father has suffered a great deal, but he’s trying very hard to live his life and provide for Opal, he just needs help breaking out of his shell as Opal puts it. All the characters in the book are brought together by a garden party at the end of the story. Opal learns that it’s important to cherish the friends you have in the present and that it’s also important to move on. The book contains themes of sadness, friendship, acceptance, abandonment, loneliness, and love to name a few.
I read this with my kids and loved all of the characters–I seemed to connect with each and every one of them, especially Otis. Readers are reminded to think before they act, to never judge someone because of how they look, and to have empathy for others, including animals. Many people have a past and this story teaches you that it’s okay to move on, to appreciate what you have, and to love the people you have in your life at that very moment. The book is written in a very easy to read manner, perfect for elementary readers. It’s a heartwarming read that I highly recommend to people of all ages.
My rating is 5*****
- Age Range: 8 and up
- Grade Level: 3 – 6
- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (August 6, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0763616052
- ISBN-13: 978-0763616052
This is also one of our absolute favorite movies. We loved that a few additional characters were added into the movie that weren’t in the book. You can watch the trailer below:
This is my July choice for the Ultimate Reading Challenge for a book with a cover you love. To see both of my reading challenges, you can click here.
Thanks for reading my review of Because of Winn-Dixie. Have you read this book? Feel free to share your thoughts below.