Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

by Kate DiCamillo
published: Candlewick Press, 2013
pages: 232

Flora is a self-proclaimed cynic living an unassuming cynical life with a mother who is more interested in her romance novels than her daughter.  Flora's life is dull, until she observe her neighbor accidentally vacuum up a squirrel.  From that moment on, Flora's life takes a turn for the unexpected.  She befriends a superhero squirrel and sniffs out the arch-nemesis in their story.  Together Flora and Ulysses will save the world.

I liked the comic book, superhero feel of the story which was helped by the periodic illustrated panels.  Flora, the cynical 10-year-old main character, lived her life in a comic book style.  She'd see words written above people she interacted with much like the words in the panels of the comics she read.  Incandesto is her superhero of choice and she compared everything in her life to that of Incandesto's life and modeled her actions off of his.

Ulysses is a very interesting character, especially since he is a squirrel.  He's a super hero squirrel with an origin story that's bizarre and unique.  He discovers his abilities right along with Flora.  What he decides he wants to do with them is vastly different than what everyone else wants him to do.  He's an adorable character.

Kate DiCamillo hits on hard topics in all of her novels and Flora and Ulysses is no exception.  The characters deal with love, grief, angry, loss, divorce, loneliness and so much more.  She does an excellent job of explaining these in a way that children will understand without oversimplifying them.

This book is not my favorite Kate DiCamillo book, that title is still held by Tale of Despereaux, but it was enjoyable and entertaining all the same.

Stars: 3/5 


"Original, touching and 0h-so-funny tale starring an endearingly implausible superhero and a not-so-cynical girl."
     --Kirkus Review

"Despite supremely quirky characters and dialogue worthy of an SAT prep class, there's real emotion at the heart of this story involving two kids who have been failed by the most important people in their lives: their parents.
     --Publishers Weekly

"In "Flora and Ulysses," longtime fans will find a happy marriage of Mercy Watson's warmth and wackiness and Edward Tulane's gentle life lessons.  In Flora, they will find a girl worth knowing, and one they will remember.
     --The New York Time Book Review

A 2015 Newbery Reading Challenge Book.
A 2015 Full House Reading Challenge Book. 

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