Title: Because of Winn-Dixie
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Major Themes: Dogs, Family Read-Alouds
Synopsis: Opal’s life changes forever when she finds a dog in a supermarket.
A few years ago, I found Because of Winn-Dixie in a secondhand shop. The title seemed familiar, so I bought the book, and when I came home, I found it in the list of books needed for a program we sometimes use. I always love when I find a book from that list! I know they’ll be good ones. We didn’t get around to reading it, though, until now.
Opal has just turned ten years old. She and her father have recently moved to a new town in Florida, and her father sent her to the local Winn-Dixie supermarket. There, she found a dog, and took him home with her. Because of Winn-Dixie, the dog, Opal found the courage to ask the Preacher, her father, about her mother, who left them when Opal was only three. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal also got a job at the pet shop, and made a friend there. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal also learned to know Miss Franny Block, the librarian. And, because of Winn-Dixie, Opal became friends with Gloria Dump. What started out as a very lonely summer became a wonderful adventure filled with friends! However, she still missed her mother, whom she couldn’t remember. Would that void ever be filled?
I haven’t read many stories like Because of Winn-Dixie. It doesn’t have as much action as talking and thinking. It is told in first person, and we can only understand what Opal herself understands. I liked watching her learn about herself, the people around her, and human nature in general during the course of this story. She learned how to see past the nastiness of some people to how they were hurting underneath, and how to reach out to those people and make friends with them. Though there isn’t a lot of drama and action in this story, it is one that drew us in and made us think while we enjoyed the story.
WARNING: In Chapter 9, some boys declare that a woman is a witch. In Chapter 13, a boy calls a man retarded, and Opal calls the boy a big bald-headed baby.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12