Published by Candlewick Press on March 1st 2000
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.
Short & Sweet: Opal doesn't feel quite at home in her new town until she sees a dog wreak havoc in the local Winn-Dixie. On a whim, she speaks up for the dog and claims it as her own. Her father lets her keep the dog and Opal names him Winn-Dixie. Thanks to her new friend and companion, she finds herself learning more about the people in her town, including a pet shop owner and a nearly blind woman who is thought to be the local witch. I absolutely fell in love with Opal's character and those people she met throughout the story. The dog Winn-Dixie was quite the character himself and really captured my heart.
Final Verdict: A fantastic story that has a great message for young readers.