As one of my selections for the Four-Legged Friends challenge, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, is the one I've enjoyed the most so far. It's been three days since I've completed the book and I've already recommended it to about a dozen people. Why it took me so long to read, I have no idea.
DiCamillo's Newbery Honor winning story is tale of a summer in the life of 10 year-old Opal. Opal is the mother-less daughter of a southern Preacher and is quite happy in her life. Her and her father, whom she lovingly calls "Preacher," move to a new town and Opal quickly adjusts to life there, with a lot of help from a big, ugly stray dog she's named Winn-Dixie. Through Winn-Dixie, her job at a pet store, and new friendships, Opal spends her summer learning a lot about herself, a little about her mother, and enough about her new home to know that she is truly happy.
This was such a sweet, homey story. I loved Opal and being the crazy dog lover that I am, loved Winn-Dixie even more. Children will really enjoy the story, wanting to not only be Opal's friend, but also to go to the church where they sit on lawn chairs, help give dirty Winn-Dixie a bath, listen the music that has such importance, and play in the overgrown garden. This is a gem of a book and one that you all should read.