Middle School Monday | Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie

Format: Paperback, 182 pages
Published: Aug 6th 2001
Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age
ISBN: 9780763616052
Age Range: 10+
Rating: 5/5

Kate DiCamillo’s first published novel, like Winn-Dixie himself, immediately proved to be a keeper — a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor winner, the inspiration for a popular film, and most especially, a cherished classic that touches the hearts of readers of all ages. It’s now available in a paperback digest format certain to bring this tale’s magic to an even wider circle of fans.

The summer Opal and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket–and comes out with a dog. A big, ugly, suffering dog with a sterling sense of humor. A dog she dubs Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, the preacher tells Opal ten things about her absent mother, one for each year Opal has been alive. Winn-Dixie is better at making friends than anyone Opal has ever known, and together they meet the local librarian, Miss Franny Block, who once fought off a bear with a copy of WAR AND PEACE. They meet Gloria Dump, who is nearly blind but sees with her heart, and Otis, an ex-con who sets the animals in his pet shop loose after hours, then lulls them with his guitar.Opal spends all that sweet summer collecting stories about her new friends and thinking about her mother. But because of Winn-Dixie or perhaps because she has grown, Opal learns to let go, just a little, and that friendship—and forgiveness—can sneak up on you like a sudden summer storm.

The age rating for this book I find very difficult. I would love to recommend this for 8+ but it does deal with some alcoholism, however, it is done in a clever way that most children would not necessarily pickup so please, use the rating in this simply as a guide and judge based on your child’s maturity.

Opal is a ten year old girl who has recently moved (so she has not made any friends) and lives alone with her father (a preacher). Her mother abandoned them and this makes has made Opal very lonely. One day while walking to a local store called “Winn-Dixie”, Opal comes across a stray dog and decided to take it home. She names the dog Winn-Dixie.

Winn-Dixie becomes Opal’s best friend and helps ease her anxieties of meeting new people. As they start to make friends we meet the sweet and quirky the town’s folk and get real insight into their passions and troubles.

This is a true coming of age story that has stuck with me for years and started my love for DiCamillo’s writing.

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