Review: Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-Dixie :: Children's Book Review
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Because of Winn-Dixie

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Published in 2000 by Candlewick Press

*Middle Grade

Because of Winn-Dixie is a beautiful and heartwarming story told from the perspective of ten-year-old protagonist Opal. She and her dad, who she refers to as “the preacher,” had just moved to Florida where her father is organizing a church in a convenience store. They live in a trailer park where Opal feels lonely with a busy father and without her mother who left when Opal was three. One day, as Opal is passing a Winn-Dixie store, there is a puppy causing a commotion outside. She claims the puppy as hers to prevent him from getting in trouble by the store manager. Opal names him Winn-Dixie after the store, brings him home, and convinces her father to let her keep him. Winn-Dixie and Opal become an inseparable pair and it is because of Winn-Dixie that Opal has a summer full of adventure, makes new friends, and works up the courage to ask about her mother. The characters are well developed, the narration is authentic, and the story offers beautiful insight and emotional vulnerability. This book is an extraordinary combination of humorous and heartwarming that shares the value of adventure, hope, and friendship.

*Newberry Medal Award

Here at the University of Minnesota, we are home to the prestigious Kerlan Collection, a children’s literature archive containing original manuscripts and illustrations from countless children’s books. I have had the honor of visiting the Kerlan Collection and personally seeing some of these rare gems. Because of Winn-Dixie happens to be one of the books with original artifacts in the collection!

*To learn more about the Kerlan Collection and its history visit

Additional Resources:

Author Kate DiCamillo interview transcript by Scholastic students and teachers:

Author Kate DiCamillo biography and video interviews with Reading Rockets:

“Speaking with Kate DiCamillo about Because of Winn-Dixie” by Candlewick Press:


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