Sunday, April 30, 2006

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo*

"Just about everything that happened to me that summer happened because of Winn-Dixie."

I finished reading Because of Winn-Dixie (a 2001 Newbery Honor Book) a couple of days ago, ironically right by my brother JP who was playing Silent Hill 4. We watched Silent Hill the movie just recently by the way - I was screaming in the theater. I started talking about Because of Winn-Dixie in my April 24 post. Because of Winn-Dixie is convincingly told in the disarming, charming, smart, and even insightful voice of the ten-year-old protagonist Opal. Because of Winn-Dixie is about Opal and her cool dog Winn-Dixie. It's mostly about Opal (the title made me think at first that the novel was mostly about Winn-Dixie) and about how she deals with being the new kid in town and the preacher's daughter, being abandoned by her mama when she was three, and having a daddy like "a turtle hiding inside its shell." This children's novel is also a lot about friendship =) and about how we shouldn't judge people.

Boy, children's literature sure is getting sophisticated. And I guess that is because children are more sophisticated now, or at least they are maturing faster now. The plot of Because of Winn-Dixie is definitely linear, but I don't think it follows the classic organic plot structure of conflict-complication-climax-denouement-resolution (which is a simple, straightforward kind of plot that is easier for children to grasp). I think the plot is also a "static" plot - all of the really important action is going on inside of the characters, especially the main character. In fact, I think it would be very interesting to do a psychological analysis of Opal/the novel.

And yes, I like the novel. I think it is a good summer read for children ages 8-10, but perfect for the ten-year-olds. =)

"There ain't no way you can hold on to something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it."

*also the author of the beautiful books The Tale of Despereaux (the 2004 Newbery Medal winner) and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

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