Because of Winn-Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo
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How did the Herman W. Block library come into existence?

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In chapter 7 of the novel Because of Winn-Dixie, Miss Franny Block, the daughter of Herman W. Block, tells Opal the story about how the Herman W. Block Memorial Library came into existence. She explains that when she was a little girl, and Florida was "still wild" and "nothing but palmetto trees and mosquitoes so big they could fly away with you," her father said she could have whatever she wanted for her birthday.

Miss Franny explains that her father was wealthy, and because she loved to read, she decided to ask him for a library. She said, "A small little library would be wonderful." Opal is surprised that someone would ask for a "whole library."

Miss Franny points out that she asked for a "small one." Her vision was to have an "entire house filled with books." Her father grants her wish by building her a house, the very one they are in, and fills it with books. As a result, she became a librarian "at a very young age."

It's important to know that the reason Miss Franny is telling Opal the story is that she once had a bear visit the library, a memory that is stirred when she sees Winn-Dixie standing on his hind legs at the library window. Humorously, Miss Franny shares the experience of throwing a book at the bear, one she happened to be reading, War and Peace, a rather big book. The funny part is that the bear took the book with him.

It's also important to note that in chapter six, the reader gets the first details about the library. Opal assumes it will be a "big fancy place," but to her Both chapters show Opal's love for books.

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