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DiCamillo, Kate
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2000.
IL 3-6  RL 5.8
ISBN 0763607762
(11 booktalks)
Booktalk #1

All I had wanted to do was purchase a box of macaroni & cheese, some white rice and two tomatoes.  But then, I heard the store manager yelling, "Who let that dog in?  Who let that dirty dog in?"

I couldn't see anything but rolling vegetables and Winn-Dixie employees waving their arms, until a big, ugly  dog skidded to a stop right in front of me and smiled.  What was a lonely 15 year old to do?  I told the store manager he was my dog and that his name was Winn-Dixie.  So I don't think very fast .. so what if the store's name is Winn-Dixie.  Anyway, I yelled "Here, boy!  Here, Winn-Dixie!"  And what was a stray dog to do?  He obediently came to me and smiled so hard that he sneezed.  It was love at first sight.

Now, I, India Opal Baloni, of Naomi Florida need to convince my preacher Dad that we need a dog.  After all, my Mom isn't around, and I need company.  And we all know a dog can change your life, can't it?  Read BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, by Kate DiCamillo.  (New Hampshire Great Stone Face Committee)

Booktalk #2

The day Opal was sent by her preacher father to buy a box of macaroni-and-cheese and two tomatoes at the Winn-Dixie grocery store, she returned home with a dog. As Opal tells it, this is what happened. "The store manager was all red-faced, screaming, and waving his arms around. 'Who let a dog in here?' There were a lot of vegetables rolling around on the floor, and then the dog came running around the corner. He was a big dog. And ugly. And he looked like he was having a real good time. He skidded to a stop and smiled right at me. I had never before in my life seen a dog smile, but that is what he did." That is the beginning of Opal's and the entire town's love affair with this boisterous friendly mongrel. This delightful story will make you smile from ear to ear! The author won a Newbery Honor Medal for this book.  (Jeannie Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards)

Booktalk #3

Ten-year-old Opal Buloni has just moved to Florida where she doesn’t know anyone or have any friends until she finds a stray dog at the grocery store.  Winn-Dixie’s toothy grin and sneezes win the hearts of anyone he meets.  The only thing Winn-Dixie doesn’t like is thunderstorms.  At a party thrown by Opal and her new friend Gloria Dump for all of their new friends, a sudden thunderstorm comes up.  Winn-Dixie is gone.  Opal and her father search for him but have no luck in finding him.  “There ain’t no way you can hold on to something that wants to go….You can only love what you got while you got it.”  After this Opal understands why her mother left her and her father when she was just a small child.  Will Opal and her dad ever find Winn-Dixie?  Will Opal feel happy again?    (Cappy Holman,, USC Graduate Student)

Booktalk #4

Some friends are good at listening and talking, but Winn-Dixie could only listen.  Well, he could bark.  And on occasion he would pant and whine, if he was afraid.  But most of the time he stuck close to Opal Buloni and just listened to her.  Opal first met the huge dog when he skidded to a stop in front of her and smiled, after running around the Winn-Dixie grocery store.  That's how he got his name.  The store manager threatened to call the pound and Opal declared the dog was hers.  “Here, Winn-Dixie,” she said; and off he went with her to meet her daddy, the preacher.

                    Winn-Dixie was the first friend Opal made in Naomi, Florida.  Since moving there she had begun to miss her mother, who had left her and the preacher when she was three-years-old.  A quiet, withdrawn man, her father missed her mother terribly, but never talked about her.  It was Winn-Dixie who gave Opal the courage to say to her father,  “I've been talking to [Winn-Dixie] and he agreed with me that, since I'm ten years old, you should tell me ten things about my mama.  Just ten things, that's all.  One thing for each year that I've been alive.”  And so the preacher did.

                    Winn-Dixie had a way about him, even if he couldn't talk.  He would help Opal meet other friends in Naomi, Florida.  And he would help her deal with her mother’s absence.  Find out how a friend with four legs and no conversation opened up a new world for a little girl.   (Gail A. King,, University of South Carolina)

Booktalk #5

                            If I asked everyone what their favorite animal was, I bet most everyone would say dogs. It’s no wonder. They are soft and sweet and loving. Some of the best commercials, tv shows, or children's movies feature dogs. Why? The reason is people, especially kids, take one look into those sweet, innocent eyes and fall madly in love. That's exactly what happened to India Opal Buloni.
                        When readers meet Opal, she is not a happy girl. She is new in town no friends and living with the little conveniences her father's salary as a preacher can afford her. She is missing the mother who abandoned her more than ever before and finds it difficult to relate to her father at times. In the  most unlikely place, a local grocery store, Opal’s quick thinking saves a starving dog from the pound. Opal doesn't know it at the time, but this dog will save her too.
                         As time unfolds, Winn Dixie, as he is named, befriends Opal. He is her constant companion and the two grow closer. At the same time, he also brings many unusual characters into her life. Because of Winn Dixie, Opal befriends a witch, a criminal, a prune-faced girl, and two rotten little bullies. In exchange, Opal gains love and circle of caring. To find out how these unlikely characters fill Opal’s lonely heart, read Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.
                        This book earned a Newbery Honor in 2001 and SC Book Award in 2003. There is even a movie in post-production due to be released. This book would be a great source for many different things. First, the book could be used for teaching point of view as it is written in first person narrative. Second, it could be used to teach characterization as most of what the characters say and do helps readers to better understand them. It could be teamed with other books featuring a non-human main character to create a themed unit of study. Certainly, once the movie debuts, there will be another opportunity to compare and contrast the author’s work with that of the screen writer. I don't usually like fiction or stories about dogs, but this one touched me. I know it will speak to other hard to reach readers too.  (Zina L Watkins,,  SLIS @ University of South Carolina, Columbia)

Booktalk #6

Here's a story of a girl named India Opal.  She has just moved to Florida with her father.  Opal does not have many friends, but that all changes when she meets a stray dog at the grocery store.  We have a turtle preacher, a couple bald-headed babies, and a librarian with a passion for lozenges.  There are many other characters to meet along the way.  Can Opal find some new friends and will it really be all Because of Winn-Dixie?  You have to read this exciting, touching, and often funny story to find out!  (Justin Hamma,, college student)

Booktalk #7

Why hello there my name is Opal and I just moved to a new town with my dad who is the preacher in this here town. When I first got to this town I was feeling pretty lonely until one day I was at a store and there was a stray dog in it. The owner was mad so I said she was mine. That is how I got Winn-Dixie because it was the name of the store. She was my first real friend and helped me make so many more. She is a really great dog I also think that she helped me talk to my Dad about my mom. She left me and my father and it has been hard to understand why. Winn-Dixie has helped me more then she will ever know. We are throwing a party with all the new friends we've made together. At the party it started to rain and thunder. Everyone ran inside but when I went to go find Winn-Dixie she was not there. If I don't find her I don't know what I will do! Read Because of Winn-Dixie written by Kate Dicamillo to find out what happens. (Renee Guill,, college student)

Booktalk #8

"My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni and cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog." 

While Opal was in the Winn-Dixie grocery store, a stray dog came running around the corner that fell to a stop and smiled right at her.  Opal not being able to think on her feet, quickly said "Here, Winn-Dixie". 

Winn-Dixie became Opal's first friend in Naomi Florida and was a really good listener who could bark and occasionally whine.  Moving to a new town, Opal began to miss her mother, who abandoned her and the preacher when she was only three years old.   Winn-Dixie helped Opal find the courage to ask her father to tell her ten things about her mother.  That's all Opal wanted, was to know one thing about her mama for each year that she has been alive.  So the preacher shared ten facts about her mother and Opal was satisfied, at least for now.  Although Winn-Dixie is just a dog; he helped her befriend a witch, a criminal, a pinch-faced girl, and two big bald-headed babies.  Read Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo to find out how a dog and her new friends help fill Opal's lonesome self.  (Maggie Callaghan,, college student)

Booktalk #9

Imagine that you are sent to the grocery store to get food for supper and when you get there you find the manager and his employees screaming and waving their hands.  Then out of nowhere a dog appears and he looks at you and he gives you a huge smile and shows his teeth like you have never seen a dog do before.  This is only one of the very exciting scenes that happen in the book, Because of Winn- Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.
 The story starts out with a girl named India Opal Buloni.  She and her dad have just moved to Naomi, Florida so that he could be the preacher at Open Arms Baptist Church.  Opal as she was called was a lonely girl and when she found Winn Dixie he became her new friend.  With the help of Winn Dixie she begins to make more friends and slowly becomes less lonely.  There are many events that make you feel like you are in the book along with Opal and Winn Dixie.  One that I will share is during thunderstorms and Winn Dixie got scared and he put on a show for Opal and her father but for him it was a panic attack.  Read the book and you will find out what happen in more detail and how they overcame his fear of thunderstorms. Also, Opal thinks about her mom a lot and how she left them when she was three and hopes that she will come back. While reading you meet Gloria Dump Buloni. Is that her mom?  Well you have to read the book to find out for yourself.  (Megan Henson,, college student)

Booktalk # 10

"Hi, I'm Opal! I'm from a small town in southern Florida. I found a dog the other day in a grocery store. I pretended he was mine and called him Winn-Dixie. My dad almost didn't approve since we live in a small trailer together. However, with a little convincing, he let me keep him. Things were about to change around my town. Just wait until you see the adventures I have with my new dog and how my life changed...because of Winn-Dixie.
Because of Winn-Dixie is a contemporary realistic fiction children's novel written by Kate DiCamillo. This book won the Newberry Honor Award in 2001 and will truly capture readers with the heartfelt emotions of the little southern belle, Opal.  (Tara Adams,,  college student)

Booktalk  #11

Well, hello there! That is just Winn-Dixie I’m calling after, my crazy best friend, and my name is Opal. I am ten years old and moved to Naomi, Florida with my father just a short time ago. My father says it is not polite to ask, but I’ve got to, have you ever lost a loved one in your life? Well, I have, and I know what you are thinking… how sad for a ten year old to experience that, but it is okay, Winn-Dixie found me and oh boy, has my life been changing ever since! If you’d like to hear about how I became friends with a witch, criminal, a prune faced girl, two bully boys, and other people in this small town all with the help of my dog, then you should check out my story written by Kate DiCamillo. It is an exciting realistic fiction story titled Because of Winn Dixie and yep, that is right, my dog and I are the stars of the story! So what are you waiting for? Find out how I overcame the emotions of being a lost girl with the help of a lost dog who found himself by finding me. (Sadie Keefauver,, college student)

SUBJECTS:     Dogs -- Fiction
                        City and town life -- Fiction
                        Florida -- Fiction


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