Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo published by Scholastic, 2000.
I love this book. It flows so well. I'm impressed with how much DiCamillo is able to convey about the characters and their relationships with her easy to read prose. It is clear that every word was chosen with great care. It won the Newberry Honor Award in 2001. If you haven't read this, you should. It is destined to be a classic.
Here's an interview with DiCamillo from 2007. I want to be just like her when I grow up.