I’ve previously reviewed Kate DiCamillo, and there’s a reason she consistently wins the highest awards in the nation for her stories. Because of Winn-Dixie is no exception.
Winn-Dixie is a dog, so named under unusual circumstances, and he really doesn’t do much in this tale except act like an average dog, but if it weren’t for Winn-Dixie, much of the story wouldn’t have happened.
Ten-year-old India Opal Buloni tells the story. Opal is new to town. Her dad’s the preacher of a little church, and her mom has disappeared for reasons we learn throughout the book. As Winn-Dixie and Opal explore the town and meet an odd assortment of characters, she learns what it means to treat people with kindness, even those who may not deserve it. And who knows? She might find a new friend.
- Without ever mentioning the name of Jesus, the message throughout Because of Winn-Dixie is clear. Love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, encourage one another, be kind.
- The language is simple, and each chapter can be read as its own short story, which makes for a great family reading time.
- While most kids might not ever meet characters like Gloria Dump or Otis, all kids bump up against bullies like Dunlap and Stevie, or they must deal with stuck-up princesses like Amanda. Opal learns how to deal with both types. Her example makes for a great object lesson for her readers.
Today’s child is so sucked into instant everything that the novel, as with most vintage reads, will feel too slow at first. Yet Because of Winn-Dixie was only published seventeen years ago. What does that tell you about how quickly our society has changed?
My copy has a series of questions in the back. If your copy doesn’t have it, here are three of my own:
- Why does Opal decide to adopt Winn-Dixie in spite of how he looks and smells?
- What would not have happened to Opal if she never kept Winn-Dixie?
- Why do you think Opal doesn’t miss her mother quite so much by the end of the book?
As a dog-lover, Because of Winn-Dixie is one of my favorite books. The author obviously understands doggie behaviors. As a lover of literature, Because of Winn-Dixie is a favorite. DiCamillo is an artist in using few words to evoke powerful emotions in the reader.