India Opal Buloni is a 10-year-old girl who has just moved to a trailer park in the small town of Naomi, Florida, with her itinerant preacher father. While in the Winn-Dixie supermarket, she encounters a scruffy dog wreaking havoc. She claims the dog is hers to save it from going to the pound and names it Winn-Dixie. Winn-Dixie's first act of inspiration on Opal is for her to challenge her father to name ten things about her mother, who abandoned them years before. Dixie also becomes friends with everyone he encounters, and this encourages Opal to make new friends and gradually learn they all have burdened pasts.

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