Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Because of Winn-Dixie

Kate DiCamillo's Newberry award winning novel Because of Winn-Dixie is a simple tale of longing and hope. Gradeschooler Opal has just moved to a new town; her mother has run off and her father - who is a preacher - is despondent. Then Opal discovers a shaggy, ill-kept dog in her local Winn-Dixie grocery store. Naming him after the place where she found him, she brings him home. Like Opal (and all the characters in the novel), Winn-Dixie is "broken." He's not only homeless, but he's terrified of thunderstorms, running off and causing a ruckus unless he's hugged tight by Opal. Yet by the end of the novel, Winn-Dixie has brought Opal and her father together - along with a few of the town's other heartbroken people.

What I Like: This is a very simple story, told in a down to earth way. The characters range from a man whose rumored to be a dangerous criminal (but, it turns out, was arrested for playing his guitar in a public setting) to two elderly ladies (one of whom is vastly misunderstood by the children in the town), plus a variety of children. Each is believable and teaches Opal something valuable, but not in a "pound it over your head" sort of way. And while this is a mainstream book, it is respectful of Opal's father's position as a preacher and includes one prayer of thanks in it. My 6 year old daughter, who has advanced taste in books, really enjoyed this novel.

What I Dislike: There is a lot of poor English in the book because the author has chosen to write realistic dialogue. Because my daughter is still struggling with grammar, I chose to correct the characters' grammar as I read out loud to my child. Also, some parents will want to know that a certain elderly woman is referred to as a "witch" by some of the children in the book. She is in no way a witch, however, which Opal soon learns. Near the end of the book, one child says, "Witches don't exist...They are just myths." Ghosts are also mentioned, although it is quickly evident the characters aren't discussing Casper, but haunting memories.

Overall Rating: Very Good.

Age Appeal: 8 and up.
Publishing Info: Candlewick; 2009; ISBN: 0763644323 ; paperback, 182 pgs., $10.87.
Buy Now at Amazon for $10.95
OR buy the Kindle edition for $2.99

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1 comment:

georgi said...

Thanks for reviewing Christian books for Children...(a service we need more of) great job!