Because of Winn-Dixie (paperback)
by Kate DiCamillo
AR Level 3.9, 3 points
Because of Winn-Dixie is another of Kate DiCamillo’s stories where her voice and style is strong. It was very similar to Raymie Nightingale in that the main character, India Opal, is a lonely child who is down a parent while the remaining parent (her dad, a preacher) is suffering his own sense of loss and shuts Opal out. She is new to town and doesn’t have any friends yet, which makes her even more lonely, until she meets a dog who leads her to meet new friends. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal reconnects with her father and they realize they need to be supportive of one another.
What I like about this book is the language and thoughtfulness of the writing, and the life lessons that DiCamillo works into the storyline. For example, Opal dislikes several boys because of what they said about someone else, not her. She also isn’t sure whether to be afraid of a man because he’d been in jail. A friend of hers tells her, “you can’t always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now.” That is a good lesson or reminder not only for children (the intended audience), but for adults, as well.
What I did not like, and I shouldn’t say I didn’t like, because sometimes I do enjoy it, is the whimsical way the story flows. You are on a journey with Opal, and there isn’t a solid plot line until the end when you realize what the story was about. There isn’t a solid “problem” of the story and the conflict is internal. This isn’t always bad, but I’m sometimes not in the mood for it.
Book 13 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire!
by Polly Horvath
AR Level 4.8, 6 points
This is the story of a girl named Madeline and the kidnapping of her hippie parents, Flo and Mildred. Madeline is a responsible, intelligent young girl who wants to be normal, but her hippie parents live in a commune and do not respect modern day society and their focus on education and Prince Charles. Madeline comes home to find her parents had been kidnapped by some wicked foxes, who wanted the address to her Uncle Runyon’s house, hoping he could translate a rabbit recipe for their new factory that will make rabbit by-products. Madeline enlists the help of some rabbit friends, and they go one an adventure to rescue her parents and get her to the school in time to meet Prince Charles at her graduation ceremony.
What I liked about this book was that it had a lot of smart-alecky jokes. As you know, I love smart dialogue. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny are constantly bickering, which is humorous, and they have quick and snarky comebacks for each other, without being inappropriate. Their marriage is actually quite realistic! Though they argue, they have a deep love for each other, and a love for Madeline as their “pet” or adopted daughter. It is a funny, light-hearted, whimsical story, and it is no wonder it is a Parents’ Choice Award-winning book.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it hold my attention. It just couldn’t get through it. Maybe if I’d been reading it to my children, I could have stayed engaged, but for some reason, it lost my attention half way through. I had to just buckle down and finish the second half this afternoon. I can see it as an animated film someday, and that would be lovely.
Book 3 of 40 (year 2)