“My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog” (DiCamillo, 2001, p.7).
Ten-year-old India Opal Buloni (“Opal”) adopts a stray dog found running loose in the grocery store (saving it from the pound!) and names it Winn-Dixie after the store. Not only do Opal and Winn-Dixie become fast friends, but the dog also helps Opal make new friends. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal becomes friends with Miss Franny Block, the town librarian, Gloria, the nearly blind neighborhood witch, and Otis, an ex-con and pet store clerk.
Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie is a beautifully written story but most of all, it’s incredibly touching. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal becomes friends with a diverse group of people. Gloria, for example, is a recovering alcoholic and believed to be a witch by the neighborhood children, and Otis is an ex-con. Through these relationship Opal is able to see the world through different eyes and learns acceptance. Also, Opal is able to learn more about the mother who abandoned her and let go of some of her sadness concerning this loss.
Genre: contemporary realistic
Reading/interest level: ages 8 and up
Newberry Medal/Honor Book, 2001
ALA Notable/Best Books, 2001
Young Reader’s Choice Award, 2003
Voice of Youth Award, 2001
Friends of American Writers Juvenile Literature Award, 2001
California Young Reader Medal, 2003
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