Saturday, September 24, 2005

Because of Winn-Dixie - Kate DiCamillo

I picked up Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie from the library yesterday afternoon on the way home from work and began reading it at 4 pm as I rode home on the bus. By the time I finished eating dinner at 6.30 pm I'd also finished reading the book - it's under 200 pages in the UK edition and that's relatively large type on relatively small pages. So that's part of the reason I finished it so soon. But the other part is that it's actually quite difficult to put down ! I don't read much fiction that isn't fantasy; there's so much fantasy fiction out there for one thing, and since I also write about the genre, there's a certain obligation for me to be as widely read as possible in the genre, if I'm going to write about it intelligently and originally. Still, I'd heard a lot about this book on Child_Lit, particularly with it being made into a film earlier this year.

The book opens thus:
"My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer, my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice and two tomatoes, and I came back with a dog."

- and immediately I was wondering how Opal (as everyone calls her) managed to go home with a dog rather than the groceries for which she was sent out... Opal is 10 when the book opens, and feeling lonely in a new town to which she and her father have moved as the preacher. However she makes several friends amongst the town's residents and gets a part time job, all because of Winn-Dixie, as she names the stray dog she discovers wreaking havoc in the local Winn-Dixie grocery store.

This is a brilliant story and ideal for children who are moving to a new area because it shows that although making friends isn't always easy, it is possible and sometimes one can make new friends in unexpected ways. I think I actually liked this book better than the other Kate DiCamillo book I've read: The Tale of Despereaux. I've added Because of Winn-Dixie to my Amazon.co.uk wishlist and the next time I've got some Amazon credit to spend, I'll buy it.

On a side note, look out for the new Emma Thompson film, Nanny McPhee which opens in the UK on October 21. Thompson has adapted the Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand into a film starring herself (unrecognisably) as the eponymous Nanny, Colin Firth and Thomas Sangster (who both starred in Love Actually), Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton and Angela Lansbury. If the trailer I saw is anything to go by, this is going to be very funny and a real family film.

12 comments:

Susan said...

Michele,
Nice review! Glad to hear that you enjoyed "Because of Winn-Dixie." There's an element of magical realism that I liked--to my surprise!

Kelly said...

Glad you enjoyed this one, Michele. I think it is a classic.

Michele said...

I've never really got my head around the concept of magical realism - what would you say, Susan, were the elements of it in Because of Winn-Dixie ?

Editor said...

oh, that the dog Winn-Dixie seemed to be a kind of spiritual force. I'm thinking particularly of the storm/party scene, but, alas, do not have the book here to cite any text...

Susan said...

Michele, that previous comment from me should say "Susan" instead of "editor." Technology got the best of me. Once again.

Michele said...

That's OK, I figured it was you ! :-D

I guess you're referring to chapter 25, where Opal and her father get back to Gloria's and find it full of music ?

Kelly said...

Hi Michele (and Susan):

Michele--did you see this article from "The Scotsman"? It looks like something you'd be interested in.

http://news.scotsman.com/entertainment.cfm?id=1990652005

I'd have sent it to you by e-mail, but I couldn't find a link on your site.

Best,
Kelly

Michele said...

Well my email address is listed on the front page of my Blog, but not as clickable link (in an attempt to spare it and myself from too much spam !) Sorry ! For your future reference, it is scolere at gmail dot com...

Interesting article, although Norman Stone's a bit behind the times - I've known for years that Lewis and Tolkien argued over Lewis' work, Joy Gresham and Lewis' anti-Catholicism. That information has hardly been hidden from sight - it's been recorded in biographies of both men and I read it years ago, long before I became a scholar of fantasy... So where's Stone been that he didn't know it already ?

Kelly said...

Ah! I found it. I was looking in your profile instead of on the front page.

Yes, it is old info, but interesting how these types of films are made. (Connections)

Michele said...

Oh ! Sorry for the confusion...

Yes the connections are interesting - I'll try to get my brother to tape the program for me, if it does get aired by the BBC...

Camille said...

Nanny McPhee looks great. All my favorite actors are in it. Emma Thompson is unrecognizable except for her eyes. This will be fun to look forward to. I have not heard of the Nurse Matilda tales. BTW, Blogger nuked your movie link. It does that sometimes, it adds all sorts of garbage to the html.

Michele said...

Then I will de-nuke it !! (Actually, having just gone to edit it, I see the fault was mine, not Blogger's - I forgot to included the http:// bit that one should use for site links - so my bad ! It's fixed now though - and thanks for pointing it out to me.)

I hadn't come across the Nurse Matilda books either, but co-incidentally on Saturday a friend offered to lend me her newly purchased copies, knowing nothing of the film until I (and a genre magazine) enlightened her ! I shall read them with curiosity - although I may wait until I've seen the film to read them...

I must admit I'm looking forward to seeing Colin Firth as a harassed dad, instead of a romantic lead !