Because of Winn-Dixie is such a well-known, highly awarded book that there is nothing new to reasonably add to the reviews already out there loving this heart-warming tale of friendship.
However I once listened to a podcast with DiCamillo talking about writing for children. She was asked about the sad themes that run through many of stories.
I loved her reply.
It was quite a long time ago, so I'm paraphrasing. But she said it's okay for authors to write about the sad things and the bad things that can happen in the life of a child, but that writers for children are duty-bound to finish with hope.
Something about that idea really struck a chord with me and I now use it as my litmus test for all children's books (as well as noticing how often it also features in my favourite adult literature).
Because of Winn-Dixie not only finishes with hope, but is infused with hope (& resilience & friendship) throughout.
Which isn't to say there isn't sadness, loss & fear.
As our sad young protagonist Opal says "I lay there and thought how life was like a Litmus Lozenge, how the sweet and the sad were all mixed up together and how hard it was to separate them out."
Sweet and sad are simply a part of all our lives. The trick is learning how to live with it.
Books like DiCamillo's show us how.