Because of Winn-Dixie
by Kate DiCamillo
“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.” What child can resist an opening line like this? The voice belongs to 10-year-old Opal, and she found that stray in the Winn-Dixie grocery store. That’s how he got his name. Opal has just moved with her daddy to Naomi, Florida. Her mama left them when Opal was three years old. So her daddy, the preacher, and Winn-Dixie are all the family Opal’s got. But Winn-Dixie gives Opal the courage to ask her father to tell her ten things about her mother (“Just ten things, that’s all…. One thing for each year I’ve been alive”), and gives her someone to talk to, until Winn-Dixie introduces Opal to an entire extended family of quirky characters. Your youngsters will relate to the way Opal gingerly broaches the subject of her mother, and how she attempts to feel at home in a new town; and if your child is a dog lover, well, this book is a must. Because of Winn-Dixie is Kate DiCamillo’s first book, and since then she has won a Newbery Medal (see The Tale of Despereaux). Each one is a completely different reading experience, and your children will likely want to read them all.