An old friend revisited

January 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo; Candlewick Press; Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2000.

Opal Buloni is new to town.  Her father has distanced himself from Opal after her mother abandons the family.  Aside from him, Opal seems to have no one, no friends.  When she goes to the grocery store, she comes home with more than she bargained for—a funny mutt, Winn-Dixie, who changes her life.  With Winn-Dixie, Opal makes friends and connects with her father.

I revisited this classic after reading DiCamillo’s newest novel for younger readers, The Magician’s Elephant (which I reviewed in my YA book blog, http://3amoeba.wordpress.com).  I was as delighted reading it this time as I was the first.  DiCamillo has a way of finding the crux of a character and then building upon the strengths and weaknesses, as she demonstrates so effectively in this book.  Opal’s profound sense of loss and loneliness superimposed on her improbable cast of new friends gives hope for answers to the most confounding problems.

This book of loss and hope could be used in displays and pathfinders about dogs and/or friendship.  I think it would be fun paired with the movie for a discussion about the similarities and differences.  In addition, I’d certainly recommend it to teachers to use as read-alouds or recommended reading for students (in part because there are so many teacher resources online for this title).

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Entry filed under: Newbery Award or Honor Book, Realistic Fiction. Tags: , , , .

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