I haven't read this book since it was first released and it was certainly a joy to rediscover it. The story follows ten year old India Opal as she tries to adjust to a new town in Floridia where here dad is a preacher. While grocery shopping she encounters a stray dog and immediately falls in love with him once he smiles at her. She names him Winn-Dixe and he becomes her first friend in the small little town. In no time at all practically the whole town is smitten with the well-behaved and loving mutt. Winn-Dixie gets India acclimated with the people and soon she has become friends with the pet store worker, the old librarian, the friendly "witch," a five year old girl and a few other kids. Winn-Dixie along with her new friends fill the void in India's life that her mother left her, India learns "...you can't always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now." I think that is a great thing for children to learn. India realizes that even though Otis went to jail, he is still a good man. Not dwelling on the past is important, India finally realizes this towards the end when she has to let go of and forgive her mother. She is still lucky enough to have a father that loves her very much.
Overall, it is a great read filled with wonderful messages of love, forgiveness, and friendship. This book won a Newbery Honor and is considered by many to be in the top 100 all time greatest children's books. It has even been turned into a movie (2005).