Ten year old India Opal Buloni moves with her father to Naomi, Florida. Opal, as her dad calls her, is sure that she will not have any friends. He has been called to open a storefront ministry. Opal’s mom left them when she was just a toddler. When Opal is sent to the local grocer for macaroni and cheese and tomatoes, she comes home with a stray dog that she names Winn-Dixie. Since the dog had been running loose in the grocery store, she figures if she says is name is Winn-Dixie, the store manager is less likely to call the authorities and have him removed. Opal talks her father into letting Winn-Dixie move into their trailer home and like any kid with a new pet promises to take good care of him. With Winn-Dixie at her side, Opal sets out in her new hometown and meets a cast of characters: the local librarian, an ex-convict who runs the pet store and an eccentric old lady rumored by some of the townspeople to be a witch. Along the way, she learns about herself, her father and begins to come to grips with never really having known her mother.
I chose Because of Winn Dixie because of its timeless message of tolerance, friendship and forgiveness. There is hope of new beginnings regardless of where you are or who you have been in the past. It is a story for all ages. And as Gloria Dump tells Opal, “You can’t always judge people by the things they have done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now.” Something I think we all need to hear. I will be distributing the book in the Lyell Avenue neighborhood; hopefully to some of the students at the Cameron Community Ministries.
Pat Connor, Site Supervisor & Librarian at the Lyell Branch of the Rochester Public Library