Thursday, July 26, 2007

[Book Review] BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE by Kate DiCamillo


Heather Lawson reviews BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, 2000)

In a television episode of As Time Goes By, the character played by Dame Judi Dench is perturbed because her husband Lionel is reading a children’s book, The Wind in the Willows. After she takes the book away from him, she reads a section out loud, smiles and realizes that an adult can and should read children’s books.

Like Lionel, I also appreciate the joy of a good story written for children which can be appreciated by readers of any age. For instance, I loved the fractured fairy tale The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, and decided to try one of her other books. Because of Winn-Dixie was not a disappointment. I could list the countless awards it has won and let this review go at that, but that would not explain why all of those groups chose this book to honor.

Adult readers of Because of Winn-Dixie might compare it with other titles. With the popularity of Marley and Me, one could say that it is another wonderful story honoring a special dog. For those that loved To Kill A Mockingbird, there are similar themes woven around the neighbor who is thought to be a witch, like the frightening “Boo” Radley. Another parallel is that the main character is also a young girl who is being raised in a motherless household.

But whatever comparisons you want to make with other books, Because of Winn-Dixie has its own charm, which a simple recount of the storyline does not fully convey. Basically, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni is very lonely when she moves to a small town in Florida with her father. India's father is a minister. They have never gotten over the loss of her mother who just left them one day. Maybe the charm of Winn-Dixie rests in the resounding question: what makes up a family? One great answer according to DiCamillo is a dog, good friends and a father.

Have you ever read a book where the theme of family was central to the story and it moved you to laugh and cry at the same time?

Heather Lawson, Public Services


i love this story
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