Because of Winn-Dixie

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Because of Winn-Dixie Book Poster Image
This poignant novel is one of the best around.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 58 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

In simple, lyrical language, India learns not to judge others on first impressions, and to make friends by opening herself to others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Opal, who narrates the story, ties it all together. Her voice is one of the more distinctive in recent years -- tart without being snide, humorous, wise without precocity, and honest. Initially she is more comfortable with adults than with children, but she learns, with help from her unusual dog and some caring adults, to look for the good in others.

Violence

India is dealing with her mother's abandonment.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's not much plot, but this gentle character story, simply told, is as engrossing and sweet as they come. In simple, lyrical language, India learns not to judge others on first impressions, and to make friends by opening herself to others.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byirenew April 9, 2008

Beautifully written, moving story. A quick read.

This was a lovely story with a lot of well-written imagery that kids can understand. The story has some sad issues: a mother that has left and another minor cha... Continue reading
Adult Written byDexterSmith April 9, 2008

Superb novel with superb messages.

Because of Winn-Dixie tells the story of India Opal Buloni, a 10-year-old girl who moves to a new town and doesn't know anybody. She is teased by the kids... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byaddie2011 January 21, 2011
Teen, 13 years old Written byEnvironment May 6, 2015

Good book

This is a good book for elementary students. It made me giggle. This is a book that kids could relate to, especially for frustration.

What's the story?

When lonely India Opal Buloni takes home a stray dog she finds at the supermarket, her whole life changes in ways she couldn't have imagined. This soothing, poignant first novel, filled with the atmosphere of a dusty Southern town, is one of the best around.

India Opal Buloni has just moved to the small town of Naomi, Florida, with her father, a preacher who "reminded me of a turtle hiding inside its shell." Her mother abandoned them years before, and Opal feels alone and abandoned in her new town.

At the supermarket she rescues a stray dog who looks "like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain," and names him Winn-Dixie, after the market. She soon discovers that he is great at making friends, and because of Winn-Dixie, Opal is learning to see beyond people's surfaces.

The ex-con who runs the pet shop plays music that mesmerizes animals. An woman rumored to be a witch is just an old lady who is half-blind, but can see with her heart. A pinched-faced girl harbors a tragic secret. And all are soon her friends.

Is it any good?

This exceptional first novel joins a genre of stories without villains, that hold the reader instead through the charm of the characters, the delight of the events, and the lyricism of the writing. BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE is a warmhearted, lovely combination of hilarity (in one scene Winn-Dixie captures an unhurt mouse in the church and delivers it to the preacher during his sermon), poignancy (a candy that tastes of sadness created by a young man who lost everything in the Civil War), and the kind of characters you find only in Southern novels (a child named Sweetie Pie, an old woman who ties bottles to a tree to hold the ghosts of her past transgressions).

Opal, who narrates, ties it all together. Her voice is one of the more distinctive in recent years -- tart without being snide, humorous, wise without precocity, and honest. Initially she is more comfortable with adults than with children, but she learns, with help from her unusual dog and some caring adults, to look for the good in others.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about first impressions.

  • How do Opal's opinions of the new people in her life change through the course of the story?

  • Families can also talk about pets. Why do you think it's easier for Opal to befriend a dog than other people?

  • How does her friendship with Winn-Dixie change her other relationships?

  • If you have a pet, do you consider your pet to be a friend?

Book details

For kids who love animal tales

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