I love Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, but I will admit that I don't go gaga over her work. I am mostly a realistic fiction type of person, so her books that have a bit of magical realism don't do much for me. Yet, I still read her work and recognize it for its writing and the audience she attracts.
Flora is a girl, Ulysses a squirrel, and the two form a friendship of sorts. I'm simplifying quite a bit, but that would be the general premise of the story. Ulysses has some unusual talents all because of an accident with a vacuum. As he and Flora develop a friendship, they are confronted with people who don't understand how she could be attached to a squirrel and can't see Ulysses' exceptional abilities.
DiCamillo's characters are quirky and fun. Flora at ten is a wonderfully unique girl. Yet, the vocabulary in this book is for a much older audience (I assure you that my children do not know the meaning of the word malfeasance which was used several times, along with a slew of other little used words). As a read aloud this would be great and I can see teachers and parents enjoying the story with their children.
Flora and Ulysses will definitely have an audience, yet I am still awaiting a book that follows in Because of Winn Dixie's footsteps.