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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. Recalling the fiction of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers, here is a funny, poignant, and utterly genuine first novel from a major new talent.
Recalling the fiction of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers, here is a funny, poignant, and utterly genuine first novel from a major new talent.
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.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow, and hope. And it's funny, too. A real gem." --------
Publishers Weekly, starred review
[E]xquisitely crafted first novel. Each chapter possesses an arc of its own and reads almost like a short story in its completeness; yet the chapters add up to much more than a sum of their parts. . . This bittersweet tale of contemporary life in a small Southern town will hold readers rapt." --------
School Library Journal, starred review
"This well-crafted, realistic, and heartwarming story will be read and reread as a new favorite deserving a long-term place on library shelves." --------
School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
Selected titles were chosen by the editors based on the following criteria: strength of story line, clarity or presentation, quality of illustration, and estimated appeal to children or adolescents. "A heartfelt story that is sure to touch a chord with readers." --------
Horn Book Guide, The
"A gentle book about good people coming together to combat lonliness and heartache--with a little canine assistance." --------
New York Times Book Review, The
"Poignant and delicately told." --------
Minneapolis, MN Circ = 682,000
"an enchanting little book with a touch of magic, a cast of great characters, and a lot of real life and wisdom." --------
Five Owls, Book of Merit
"Children will enjoy Opal's abiding humor and Winn-Dixie's disarming and endearing ways, and the funny and important things that happen when the two of them get together." --------
San Francisco Chronicle
". . . carefully touches on big issues: abandonment, loneliness, empathy and belonging." --------
"It's rare to recommend a book for all ages but here we have BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE by Kate DiCamillo." --------
"Both kids and grown-ups love it . . . it's a great read-aloud book . . . it has scooped up numerous awards . . . it's an unforgettable story about making friends . . . " --------
"It's the kind of book people love and tell their friends to read." --------
Minneapolis, MN Circ = 682,000
"DiCamillo doesn't shy from bad things, and while she validates a child's sense of grief and loss, she also hold open life's possibilities." --------
"In this Newbery Honor Book, the author skillfully weaves a variety of characters together to show the meaning of friendship." --------
"This lively coming-of-age story touches on friendship, loss, and understanding." --------
Midwest Book Review
"An honest, well written story that will tug at your heart." --------
"The books' truthfulness is what makes it so powerful. People can identify with the fact that everyone sort of isolates themselves because of a misconnection or a loss or whatever is in their lives." --------
Scholastic Administrat@r Magazine
Featured in list of the top 10 children's chapter books of the last 25 years.
Kate DiCamillo says of writing BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, "I was living in an apartment where no dogs were allowed. As a result, I was suffering from a serious case of 'dog withdrawal.' One night, before I went to sleep, I heard this little girl's voice (with a Southern accent) say, 'I have a dog named Winn-Dixie.' When I woke up the next morning, the voice was still talking, and I started writing down what India Opal Buloni was telling me. The book is (I hope) 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. This is what happened: I walked into the produce section of the Winn-Dixie grocery store to pick out my two tomatoes and I almost bumped right into the store manager. He was standing there all red-faced, screaming and waving his arms around.
"Who let a dog in here?" he kept on shouting. "Who let a dirty dog in here?"
At first, I didn't see a dog. There were just a lot of vegetables rolling around on the floor, tomatoes and onions and green peppers. And there was what seemed like a whole army of Winn-Dixie employees running around waving their arms just the same way the store manager was waving his.
And then the dog came running around the corner. He was a big dog. And ugly. And he looked like he was having a real good time. His tongue was hanging out and he was wagging his tail. He skidded to a stop and smiled right at me. I had never before in my life seen a dog smile, but that is what he did. He pulled back his lips and showed me all his teeth. Then he wagged his tail so hard that he knocked some oranges off a display, and they went rolling everywhere, mixing in with the tomatoes and onions and green peppers.
The manager screamed, "Somebody grab that dog!"
The dog went running over to the manager, wagging his tail and smiling. He stood up on his hind legs. You could tell that all he wanted to do was get face to face with the manager and thank him for the good time he was having in the produce department, but somehow he ended up knocking the manager over. And the manager must have been having a bad day, because lying there on the floor, right in front of everybody, he started to cry. The dog leaned over him, real concerned, and licked his face.
"Please," said the manager. "Somebody call the pound."
"Wait a minute!" I hollered. "That's my dog. Don't call the pound."
All the Winn-Dixie employees turned around and looked at me, and I knew I had done something big. And maybe stupid, too. But I couldn't help it. I couldn't let that dog go to the pound.
"Here, boy," I said.
The dog stopped licking the manager's face and put his ears up in the air and looked at me, like he was trying to remember where he knew me from.
"Here, boy," I said again. And then I figured that the dog was probably just like everybody else in the world, that he would want to get called by a name, only I didn't know what his name was, so I just said the first thing that came into my head. I said, "Here, Winn-Dixie."
And that dog came trotting over to me just like he had been doing it his whole life.
The manager sat up and gave me a hard stare, like maybe I was making fun of him.
"It's his name," I said. "Honest."
The manager said, "Don't you know not to bring a dog into a grocery store?"
"Yes sir," I told him. "He got in by mistake. I'm sorry. It won't happen again.
"Come on, Winn-Dixie," I said to the dog.
I started walking and he followed along behind me as I went out of the produce department and down the cereal aisle and past all the cashiers and out the door.
Once we were safe outside, I checked him over real careful and he didn't look that good. He was big, but skinny; you could see his ribs. And there were bald patches all over him, places where he didn't have any fur at all. Mostly, he looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.
"You're a mess," I told him. "I bet you don't belong to anybody."
He smiled at me. He did that thing again, where he pulled back his lips and showed me his teeth. He smiled so big that it made him sneeze. It was like he was saying, "I know I'm a mess. Isn't it funny?"
It's hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.
"Come on," I told him. "Let's see what the preacher has to say about you."
And the two of us, me and Winn-Dixie, started walking home.
Because of Winn-Dixie. Copyright (c) 2000 Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
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