My kids and I have read this book many times and I love it every time. DiCamillo does an excellent job of capturing the young voice of India Opal, and who couldn't fall in love with this mess of a dog? I especially appreciated the author's honesty in dealing with Opal's absent and alcoholic mother, as well as a father who has trouble communicating with his daughter. Opal bonds with the dog in a way that is believable and touching. And characters like Gloria Dump, Otis, and the Dewberry boys are all so well drawn.