Monday, March 14, 2011

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie
by Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick Press, 2000
192 pages

Sorry about the posting delay, all. I've been working through a very fractured-attention-span time, which leads to significantly less reading (I haven't read anything since this book) and less ability to write a coherent review, too. This may not get everything I wanted to say about this book, but I figured that a little review is better than no review at all.

This book is lovely. It's well-written. It's a little capsule of sweet and sad all rolled into 192 pages, and it is a perfect book club read for my parent-child group.

India Opal Buloni has moved to a small town in Florida with her single-parent father, a pastor at a small evangelical church. We meet her immediately as she is meeting Winn-Dixie, the titular dog, in the supermarket of the same name. He's causing quite a disruption, and she manages to convince everyone that he's hers, and she also manages to convince the pastor that they need a dog. Through the rest of the book, we follow India through her summer as she meets some very interesting people in the town, and starts to connect them to each other in ways they may not have foreseen before a girl and her dog showed up.

More than being about the hijinks between India and Winn-Dixie, though, this is a story of connection and friendship, and a story about loss and sadness, too. Which doesn't mean it's a sad book, or a downer in any way -- not a chance. But it is a book about the lives people lead that don't always show on the surface, and how beautiful and difficult those lives can be. I suppose in some ways, some of the characters might read like a heavy-handed moral -- "don't judge a book by it's cover!" and that sort of thing -- but I think DiCamillo handles it skillfully and gently, in a way that doesn't talk down to her readers. I enjoyed this book as much as an adult as I think the kids will enjoy it.

I definitely recommend this book for reading together. I think it's a fine read-alone for kids, too, but I think that there are a lot of themes that can be addressed here, making it an ideal read for the book club. I'd also recommend it for a light and quick, but not entirely fluffy, read for adults, too. DiCamillo writes in such a way that I could picture the southern atmosphere, I could feel the summer heat, and I could smell the wet dog. The story is simple, pleasant, and kind, but not without its touch of sadness, which I think makes the whole thing sweeter.


Ana S. said...

Oh, this does sound lovely! I've enjoyed everything I've read by DiCamillo so far, and by the sound of it this would be no exception.

Unknown said...

I haven't read ANYTHING else by DiCamillo yet. But I definitely will. I didn't mention, but I adore the use of books and stories in this one, too. And there's a librarian! She is a little stereotypical, but I like her anyways.

Jeanne said...

The summer heat was one of my favorite parts of this book. A good one to read this time of year!

Nan said...

I LOVE this book, and also the movie. The casting in the film was inspired, and I learned that the dog is not a 'mutt' as one might think. It is a Berger Picard, and I would like one someday! And, this was an excellent review! Funny, but I'm not so much a fan of her other work. This is the one for me.

Jill said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this - isn't it a wonderful book? (Although I have to admit that before I read it, I flipped to the end to make sure it wasn't a tragic dog book - yes, I'm a wimp!)

Unknown said...

Jeanne - So true! Just when I am starting to think that winter's been hanging on long enough, thank you, it's nice to have a hit of summer heat.

Nan - I haven't seen the movie! Does it mention clues in the book as to Winn-Dixie's breed? I missed them. But the stills I've seen from the movie, man, what a gorgeous dog.

Darla - I am *so* a wimp when it comes to sad animal stories. I can't handle them. Luckily, I've chosen The Incredible Journey for this particular book club for June's book ... :S

Anonymous said...

I just did the book for my book report! Great one to use

Unknown said...

I can absolutely see how it would be excellent for that purpose. :)