Because of Winn Dixie

Coming of Age
Rated: PG rating: Ages 8+

This movie, released in 2005, is based on the book by Kate DiCamillo. A young girl and her preacher father move to a small town in the South. Her mother has left and no one knows if she will return. Opal is left on her own most of the time, until she meets a dog in the Winn-Dixie supermarket. She calls him Winn Dixie and he comes to her. Throughout the summer, Winn Dixie and Opal work though her feelings of abandonment with her father and with other eccentric adults she meets. When Winn-Dixie runs away in a thunderstorm, Opal blames her father for driving away her mother too.

When my mother-in-law sent us this movie a few years ago, I thought, great, another dog dies in the end movie. Before I watched this, I Googled the story line to make sure the dog survives. He does.

This is a good film and book to introduce tweens to people different from them. She meets an elderly librarian who tells stories about a bear and who is happy being unmarried. Another adult is a blind recovering alcoholic who has a “mistake tree” in her backyard. The beer bottles hanging from it are ghosts of all of the things she has done wrong.

The strongest story line is Opal’s feeling of abandonment by her mother. He father is constantly sad that he won’t rejoin the world. Opal calls him a turtle. Losing Winn Dixie in the thunderstorm is enough to bring the subject to a head. Her father finally admits that her mother might never come home.

This movie brings up difficult subjects, but treats them gently. I agree that it would be suitable for children 8+.

Wang, W. (Director). (2005). Because of Winn Dixie. [Motion picture]. USA: 20th Century Fox.