Because of Winn-Dixie, a big, ugly, happy dog, 10-year-old Opal learns 10 things about her long-gone mother from her preacher father. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal makes new friends among the somewhat unusual residents of her new hometown, Naomi, Florida. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to find her place in the world and let go of some of the sadness left by her mother's abandonment seven years earlier.
With her newly adopted, goofy pooch at her side, Opal explores her bittersweet world and learns to listen to other people's lives. This warm and winning book hosts an unforgettable cast of characters, including a librarian who fought off a bear with a copy of War and Peace, an ex-con pet-store clerk who plays sweet music to his animal charges, and the neighborhood "witch," a nearly blind woman who sees with her heart. Part Frankie (The Member of the Wedding), part Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird), Opal brings her own unique and wonderful voice to a story of friendship, loneliness, and acceptance. Opal's down-home charm and dead-on honesty will earn her friends and fans far beyond the confines of Naomi, Florida. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
DiCamillo's debut novel, a 2001 Newbery Honor Book, percolates with heartfelt emotion and eccentric Southern color as superbly performed by Tony Award-winning actress Jones. Ten-year-old Opal, lonely in the Florida town where she has just moved with her preacher father, instantly takes a shine to a scraggly stray dog she encounters in the local Winn-Dixie supermarket. The pooch, named for their meeting place, becomes a trusted companion with whom Opal can share her thoughts and fears, and her hurt, confused feelings about the mother who left the family when Opal was three. Winn-Dixie is soon helping Opal in other ways, too. The dog's "smile" and sweet temperament act as ice breakers that allow Opal to meet a whole new group of friends who grow to be an unusual extended family. Jones imbues her depiction of Opal with a tone of youthful, hopeful wonder and skillfully transforms her voice to distinguish the other older, life-weathered characters. A Tennessee native, she never sounds hokey as she adopts a Southern accent, and she effortlessly slips into a compelling storytelling rhythm. This is a top-notch treatment of an award-winning tale. Ages 8-up.
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