by Kate DiCamillo
This is a really gentle, sweet story about a girl who lives in a trailer park in southern Florida. She\’s recently moved there with her father, the local preacher, and struggles to make friends. Until she spontaneously adopts a large, ugly dog that\’s causing trouble in the grocery store. She promptly names him Winn-Dixie and takes him home. The homely, friendly mutt makes his way into everyone\’s heart, his unassuming nature opening things up for our young protagonist. With Winn-Dixie at her side she starts meeting new people, from all walks of life. She lands a job in the pet shop. She gets her father to tell her more about her mother, who left them when she was only three. She discovers that Winn-Dixie also has his flaws, he needs her understanding and patience too. By the end of the story she\’s made friends among other children in the town, two older women and a man who usually keeps to himself (rumors say he\’s a criminal and local kids call him retarded, but neither is true). The voices of the children sound authentic- sassy, confused or insightful as the occasion calls for it. The bits about the library are nice, and the stories the elderly women share. It shows something of how everyone has pain in their lives, but together those moments can be overcome. I liked this story. It\’s heartwarming and kind.
Rating: 3/5 185 pages, 2000