Wednesday, May 20, 2009

a tale of girl, dog, & their search for happiness

I recently read this phenomenal book called Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. Fun fact: she also wrote The Tale of Desperaux. So, this is a kids' book, but it also is not a kids' book. I read it for my literature and film class and we discussed this today. It has a kind of classic kids' story line: girl who is missing one of her parents finds a stray dog, gets to keep it, then has adventures with said dog, making new friends along the way. So, that is one way to read it. And it is completely legitimate. (Side note: why are the characters of children's books so often orphans, missing one of their parents, or do not have a good relationship with them? What is it about parents that stifle children heroes? Does it have to be that way? Has anyone written a successful children's book where the child is loved by both her parents and where she loves them back? Or does that happy family situation not lend itself to conflict and thus interesting action? Just something to think about...)

So, on the surface, this is just another kids' book with a juvenile story line. But there are deeper themes of the book that children won't necessarily pick up on, at least consciously. The theme of loneliness, for example, or sorrow, or forgiveness, or heartbreak. And that is what makes this book beautiful. I am not embarrassed to admit that I cried as I read it. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I also cried during the movie (which was not as profound). Both times I saw it.

I am currently trying to write a song about the book as my final adaption project for this class. I'm having trouble making it sound legitimate though. Right now one of the the final lines is: "Just remember your friend Winn-Dixie who loves you till the end." Yeah... this is why I'm not a songwriter. 

1 comment:

Anna said...

I think some of the best books are those that are written for kids, but not written for kids. Like Shrek. I know that's not actually a book, or even a good example. But it's a true statement nonetheless.