The summer that 10-year-old India Opal Buloni and her preacher, as she calls her father, just moved to tiny Naomi, Florida, is one of the loneliest times Opal has had yet. She doesn't know anyone in town, and it seems like the local kids who attend her father's church aren't interested in knowing her, either. But all that changes when Opal is sent to the nearby Winn-Dixie grocery store for an errand. At the Winn-Dixie, Opal sees a big, ugly dog making a ruckus. When the manager threatens to call the pound to take the mutt away, Opal fibs and says the pooch belongs to her. The dog, now named Winn-Dixie, loves the idea and is thrilled when Opal takes him home. Winn-Dixie soon becomes part of the family, and Opal's best friend. Winn-Dixie is right in the middle of all the excitement, in fact, he causes much of the excitement. He is terrified of storms. Thunder and lightning send him racing around India's tiny trailer making the storm inside almost as the storm outside.
Winn-Dixie is the only dog around who can actually smile. He pulled back his lips and showed me all his teeth." Winn Dixie is also one of the few things that can make the preacher smile. India's mother has left her and the preacher. This summer, ten-year-old India is determined to find out more about her mother. She persuades the preacher to tell her ten things about her mother. "One, your mama was funny. She could make just about anybody laugh," the preacher starts. India learns that her mother was red-headed, she liked to plant things, she could run fast, she couldn't cook, she loved to tell stories, she knew the names of every constellation, she hated being a preacher's wife, she drank too much, and she loved India Opal. It's not much to know about your mother, but India clings to list with a fierceness born of loneliness. But with Winn-Dixie around, India can't stay lonely for long. .
First, Winn-Dixie needs a collar and other supplies from the local pet store.