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story.lead_photo.caption "Because of Winn-Dixie" 20th anniversary edition, by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, Dec. 1) ages 9-12, 192 pages, $18.99. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

"Because of Winn-Dixie" 20th anniversary edition

BY: Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, Tuesday), ages 9-12, 192 pages, $18.99.

STORY: India Opal Buloni is the new kid at Naomi, a quiet town in Florida, where her father moved them when he accepted a call to preach from the Open Arms Baptist Church. Her mother, an alcoholic, has abandoned the little family, and the Preacher hunches over his work, suffering his loss in silence, reluctant to talk about it with his hurting child.

They live in the Friendly Corners Trailer Park, which does not allow children but has made an exception for Opal. Soon it learns to make an exception for Opal's dog, Winn-Dixie, as does everyone else in town.

She meets this dog at the grocery store when the limping, stinky, raggedy beast runs in and causes an uproar. The grocer is about to send him off to the pound where he would surely die, but Opal pretends she owns him. As soon as they escape the store together, she does.

This heartwarming story about gentle people valued for their goodness despite past mistakes has been slightly revised for its 20th edition. In her afterword, the author says she has changed since she first wrote about Opal reading "Gone With the Wind" to a friend. "I found it painful to see Opal and Gloria Dump sitting together, side by side, reading from a book that I cannot in good conscience recommend to my readers."

So, for this handsome edition with thick pages edged in the old way as though cut apart by hand, the plucky girl and her compassionate old pal share "David Copperfield" instead.

Sorry, Miss Scarlett, no forgiveness for your mistakes.

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.

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