I was roaming around in my closet this afternoon, gazing upon my books (like always, because I had nothing else to do) and I discovered Because of Winn-Dixie among my multiple stacks of books. I barely remember reading this book long ago in grade-school, though I do have positive memories of holding it within my hands. DiCamillo beautifully captures the spirit of the south and the special bond between humans and their furry friends.
As our main character, India Opal says in the first few pages of the book:
“It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.”
India Opal, who goes by just Opal, is a 10 year old girl who just moved to the town of Naomi, Florida with her daddy who is a preacher. Her mom is completely out of the picture, has been all of her life, and Opal, like any child who has had a parent leave or abandon them, fills an irreplaceable aching in her heart for a mother she has never known.
I’m from the south, so, call me a little biased to this sweet country story if you must, though I thought it to be such a wonderful and cherished childhood read. Typically, I’m not too picky nor critical of the movie versions of novels, and the big screen’s 2005 version of Because of Winn-Dixie, starring AnnaSophia Robb in the lead role, was just as enjoyable as the book for me.
As wonderfully as DiCamillo captures the love between animal and person, she also colorfully adds in themes of being the bigger person, knowing right from wrong, and not judging others strictly off of how they appear and seem to be.
I believe this novel to be a exceptional read for both grade school and middle school children, not only for its moralistic themes, though because just about everyone loves a good story about an awesome dog! I reread Because of Winn-Dixie in one sitting and, if you have the time, (better yet, even if you don’t have the time), give your heart a little southern comfort and pick up this adorable novel.
Other Books By Kate DiCamillo:
- The Tale of Despereaux
- Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
- Raymie Nightingale
- The Tiger Rising
YouTube Channel: Association for Library Service to Children
Featured image via Amazon