In Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, India Opal Buloni goes to the Winn-Dixie for some groceries and comes back with a dog. A big, ugly dog who was tearing up the produce aisle at the store. To keep him from going to the pound, Opal (as she is called) claims the dog as her own. The first name that pops into her head for him is Winn-Dixie.
Opal and her daddy, the preacher, have just moved to Naomi, Florida from a Watley in the north of the state. Since she has moved, she has been thinking about her mother, who left when Opal was three. As she is bathing and brushing her new dog, she is telling Winn-Dixie about missing her mother. He is looking at her extra hard, so she asks him, “Do you think I should make the preacher tell me about her?”. Winn-Dixie looks at her so hard he sneezes. ( Note: My dog Piper would answer questions with a sneeze for yes and a whole body shake for no.) So Opal learns 10 things about her mother because of Winn-Dixie. She also makes friends with the librarian, a pet store clerk who plays beautiful guitar music and an almost blind woman who the neighbor boys think is a witch, all because of Winn-Dixie. Opal’s dog becomes the catalyst for creating her new community in Naomi.
The Yulupa Library has eight copies. The AR level is 3.9 and the test earns 3 points.