Candlewick Press, 2000. 978-0-7636-5007-0
Synopsis: India Opal Buloni and her father, a preacher, have just moved to the small town of Naomi, Florida so that her father can be the preacher at the Open Arms Baptist Church of Naomi. That summer, Opal went to the store for some groceries and came back with a dog: Winn-Dixie, named after the store she found him in. Winn-Dixie is not the best looking dog, nor the best smelling, but Opal takes to him as fast as he takes to her. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets and makes friends with a number of the townsfolk that summer, and might even learn a little bit about herself too.
Why I picked it up: It was another book that I bought at a school book fair that has sat on my shelf for many years waiting to be read.
Why I finished it: DiCamillo’s writing is rather sparse and simplistic, which itself doesn’t make the book what it is. What makes the book memorable is its exploration of remembrance and forgiveness, two things that add to the development of the relationships of the characters throughout the story. Opal is dealing with what I found to be a surprising amount of emotional issues: moving to a new town, losing a mother she does not remember, trying to make new friends, and making an effort to have a relationship with her father. Her father, similarly, is dealing with the guilt of not being able to bring back his wife and being a good father to his daughter. Winn-Dixie helps to get both Opal and her father to open up to each other and to the people around them to help them to move on from whatever seems to have happened in the past. The structure of the book itself reads almost like a series of interrelated short stories, which could be beneficial to a reader with a shorter attention span. Overall, a sweet rendition of a tale revolving around community, forgiveness, and hope.
Other related materials: Because of Winn-Dixie (movie); The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo; The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo; The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo; The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo; Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo; Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor; Shiloh Season by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor; Saving Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor; Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls; Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White; Old Yeller by Fred Gipson; Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech; Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater; Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes; Absolutely Lucy books by Ilene Cooper; Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner