Saturday, July 14, 2012

FRIDAY FICTION: "Because of Winn Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo - "...a hymn of praise to dogs, friendship, and the South"

"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." With these words, ten-year-old Opal Buloni begins her account of the summer her life changed because of Winn-Dixie, a goofy stray dog she adopted. Opal and her father, whom she usually refers to as "the preacher," have just moved to Naomi, Florida.

The Story

Her mother abandoned the family when Opal was three. Opal's father is the preacher at the Open Arms Baptist Church of Naomi. Although they are living at the Friendly Corners Trailer Park, Opal does not have any friends yet. The move and her loneliness make Opal miss her fun loving mother more than ever. She wants to know more about her mother, but the preacher, who misses his wife very much, won't answer her questions.
The author, Kate DiCamillo, does an excellent job of capturing the "voice" of Opal, who is a resilient child. With the help of Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to meet a number of people in her community, some quite eccentric. As the summer progresses, Opal builds a number of friendships with people of all ages and types. She also convinces her father to tell her ten things about her mother, one for every year of Opal's life. Opal's story is both humorous and poignant as she learns about friendships, families, and moving on. It is, as the author states, "...a hymn of praise to dogs, friendship, and the South."

An Award Winner

Kate DiCamillo earned one of the highest honors in children's books when Because of Winn-Dixie was designated a Newbery Honor Book for excellence. In addition to being named a 2001 Newbery Honor Book, Because of Winn-Dixie was awarded the Josette Frank Award from the Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education. This children's fiction award each year "...honors a book or books of outstanding literary merit in which children or young people deal in a positive and realistic way with difficulties in their world and grow emotionally and morally." Both awards were well deserved.

The Book and Movie Versions of Because of Winn-Dixie

Candlewick Press is the publisher of Because of Winn-Dixie(ISBN: 0763607762). The children's novel was first published in 2000, with the paperback and audiobook (cassette) versions published in 2001, and an audiobook (CD) version published in 2004. The book is 182 pages long. I would recommend Because of Winn-Dixie for children between the ages of eight and twelve. The children's movie version of "Because of Winn-Dixie" opened on February 18, 2005. I would also recommend the Because of Winn-Dixiemovie for children between the ages of eight and twelve.

Find all kinds of activities, the author's web site, a movie trailer and other web sites connected to this book!!!

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