Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

This is the story of India Opal Buloni, a ten-year-old girl who has just moved to Naomi, FL with her father, the preacher. She hasn't made any friends and she feels very lonely until she adopts Winn-Dixie at the grocery store. Winn-Dixie is a loveable, goofy dog who smiles with all of his teeth. Opal begins to make friends with everyone in the town and finds out that everyone has things that they are sad about, but there are way more things to be thankful for in life.

I'd never read this book before today but I think I've seen the movie before. Obviously the movie didn't have much impact on me because I don't remember it. This book was much more touching than I thought it would be. I always thought Winn-Dixie was a wild dog who was going to destroy things and then Opal's parents would want her to get rid of him. But I'm glad it wasn't! I have a soft spot for books about animals, which is why I still got upset when Opal thought Winn-Dixie had run away from the thunder and lightening.

Opal & Winn-Dixie in the film adaptation.
There were some passages of the book that really resonated with me. On page 78,
All of a sudden it was hard for me to talk. I loved the preacher so much. I loved him because he loved Winn-Dixie. I loved him because he was going to forgive Winn-Dixie for being afraid. But most of all, I loved him for putting his arm around Winn-Dixie like that, like he was already trying to keep him safe.
This was a really special part of the book because it showed Opal's real emotions. She was so happy that she could love Winn-Dixie and her father and that they could love one another as well. I think it also shows how Opal could be a real character. She has the same feelings another child her age might have and those children could relate to her.

Otis in the film adaptation.
A passage that I thought was a good representation of one of the themes in the book is found on page 96 when Gloria Dump is talking to Opal about not judging people. By the end of the story, all of the other characters she talks about are at her party and she understands that everyone goes through different things and that changes them, but you still shouldn't judge them before understanding that.
"...But in the meantime, you got to remember, you can't always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now. You judge Otis by the pretty music he plays and how kind he is to them animals, because that's all you know about him right now. All right?"
At the end of the story, Gloria Dump whispers to Opal, "There ain't no way you can hold on to something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it" (p.159). This part was really important in the book. Most of the characters had lost someone in their lives and they were all trying to deal with that. It was also special when Opal told her father that and he was able to come to the realization that his wife wasn't coming back. Opal learns to be thankful for what's in her life right now.

I think the author uses the sad parts of this book to teach children good lessons about life. While there are sad parts of the story, it's still uplifting and there are also very funny parts. I think this book would be effective for children in elementary school and up because I loved it too! Even though some of the issues in this book are difficult, like losing your brother or having your mother leave you when you were a young child, I still think it's appropriate for children. It shows that these things happen to other children too. Children will be able to relate to the characters.

Now I'm going to have to go back and watch the movie version to see if the underlying message is still the same. Plus AnnaSophia Robb is so cute in the movie!

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