Thursday, 19 February 2015

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

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.

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