Because of Winn-Dixie

BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE

Kate DiCamillo

One summer’s day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries—and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie. Featuring a cover illustration by E. B. Lewis.

A classic tale by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo, America’s beloved storyteller.

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One summer’s day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries—and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie. Featuring a cover illustration by E. B. Lewis.

A classic tale by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo, America’s beloved storyteller.
less …
  • Candlewick Press
  • Paperback
  • December 2015
  • 192 Pages
  • 9780763680862

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About Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo is one of America’s most beloved storytellers. She is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and a two-time Newbery Medalist. She is the author of many books for young readers, including The Tale of Despereaux, which received a Newbery Medal; Because of Winn-Dixie, which received a Newbery Honor; The Tiger Rising, a National Book Award Finalist; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, winner of a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award; The Magician’s Elephant; and the best-selling Mercy Watson series. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in Florida and now lives in Minneapolis, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week.

Author Website

Praise

“Both kids and grown-ups love it . . . it’s a great read-aloud book . . . it has scooped up numerous awards . . . it’s an unforgettable story about making friends…”Orlando Sentinel

“…[E]xquisitely crafted first novel. Each chapter possesses an arc of its own and reads almost like a short story in its completeness; yet the chapters add up to much more than a sum of their parts…This bittersweet tale of contemporary life in a small Southern town will hold readers rapt.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“…carefully touches on big issues: abandonment, loneliness, empathy and belonging.”San Francisco Chronicle

Discussion Questions

Family

1. How would you describe Opal’s relationship with her father at the beginning of the book? How does their relationship change by the end of the book?

2. Why do you think the preacher cries when he and Opal can’t find Winn-Dixie?

3. At the end of the book, Opal imagines that she is speaking to her mother and says, “I miss you, but my heart doesn’t feel empty anymore. It’s full all the way up.” What does Opal mean? Why do her feelings about her mother change?

Love, Friendship, and Community

1. Do you think Because of Winn-Dixie is a good title for this novel? Why or why not? How does Winn-Dixie change Opal’s life? How does Opal change Winn- Dixie’s life?

2. Because Gloria doesn’t see well, she tells Opal to “tell me everything about yourself, so as I can see you with my heart” (p. 66). What does she mean by this? What do you think it means to see someone with your heart? How is that different from seeing with your eyes?

3. What does Opal learn about friendship? What did you learn about friendship from reading Because of Winn-Dixie?

4. How do the people in Naomi act like a community? In what ways is Naomi, Florida, like your community? In what ways is it different? Encourage students to notice differences and similarities in race and class, as well as the ways people treat and help one another.

Understanding the Characters

1. Opal often finds that her first impression of the people she meets is not always accurate. Choose a character from the book and describe how Opal’s impression of him or her changes by the end of the story. What causes Opal’s impression to change?

2. Gloria says that she made her mistakes before she learned “the most important thing” (96). What do you think Gloria means by “the most important thing”? Why does Gloria say that “the most important thing” is different for everyone?

3. Kate DiCamillo says, “I love strange names and I love making them up.” Names often contain other meanings and can influence a reader’s perception of a character. Choose a character with an interesting name. Is there a story behind the character’s name or nickname? Does the name influence the way you see and understand the character? Does the name reflect the character’s personality and character traits?

4. Why do you think Otis kept on playing music even after the police told him to stop? What do you think Otis means when he tells Opal that “the music is better if someone is listening to it” (p. 130)?