(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Opal Buloni has just moved to Naomi, Florida, with her father, a Baptist preacher. Her mama took off a long time ago and the Preacher, still bitter from the loss, throws himself wholeheartedly into his work. Lonely, 10-year-old Opal is looking for a friend. And she finds one in the most unlikely of places—the local Winn-Dixie grocery store. Her new pal is a dirty, ugly stray dog. When the Preacher agrees, albeit reluctantly, to let Opal keep him, no one is more surprised—and delighted—than her.
For an animal no one wanted, Winn-Dixie has a way of wagging his way into a person's heart. Because of him, Opal discovers her new home is full of kind, interesting folks. The more she reaches out to them, the more her own heart fills with hope and joy. Maybe she and her father will always have a mom-shaped hole in their lives, but, as Opal learns, it doesn't have to define her. Because of Winn-Dixie, she realizes that sometimes, you have to make your own happiness.
I'm probably the last person on Earth to read Kate DiCamillo's heart-warming children's story, Because of Winn-Dixie. The book has received heaps of praise and accolades, including a Newbery Honor Award. Is it deserving? Absolutely. This is a sweet, simple tale that teaches important lessons about acceptance, love, and the fulfillment that comes from helping others, be they human or canine. DiCamillo said, "The book is (I hope) a hymn of praise to dogs, friendship, and the South." I couldn't have said it better myself.
If this were a movie (and it is!), it would be rated:
for brief, mild language
To the FTC, with love: I borrowed a well-loved copy of Because of Winn-Dixie from my daughter's personal library. Thanks, sweetie!