From School Library Journal
Gr 3–7—Flora starts off her 10th summer by promising her mother that she'll spend more time reading real books, and less time poring over the pages of her favorite superhero comics. But neither she nor her mother could have predicted that her summer would be one long superhero adventure, starring none other than Flora and her new pet squirrel, Ulysses. Ulysses gains super-squirrel strength after being sucked into a vacuum cleaner, and he changes the Buckman family's lives, renewing a sense of hope and optimism in Flora. Fans of the title's print version (Candlewick, 2013) will likely be disappointed by its audio adaptation. The novel features a number of fun cartoons, and does not translate well without the accompanying artwork, which plays a significant role in telling the story. While reader Tara Sands makes a valid attempt to differentiate male and female characters, she does not quite pull it off. The men in the novel come off sounding hokey and exaggerated. While DiCamillo's work shines on paper, the excessive use of dialogue tags, and absence of corresponding artwork, make this novel a poor choice as a read aloud.—Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, OR
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
*Starred Review* The story begins with a vacuum cleaner. And a squirrel. Or, to be more precise, a squirrel who gets sucked into a Ulysses Super Suction wielded by Flora’s neighbor, Mrs. Tickham. The rather hairless squirrel that is spit out is not the same one that went in. That squirrel had only one thought: “I’m hungry.” After Flora performs CPR, the rescued squirrel, newly named Ulysses, is still hungry, but now he has many thoughts in his head. Foremost is his consideration of Flora’s suggestion that perhaps he is a superhero like The Amazing Incandesto, whose comic-book adventures Flora read with her father. (Drawing on comic-strip elements, Campbell’s illustrations here work wonderfully well.) Since Flora’s father and mother have split up, Flora has become a confirmed and defiant cynic. Yet it is hard to remain a cynic while one’s heart is opening to a squirrel who can type (“Squirtl. I am . . . born anew”), who can fly, and who adores Flora. Newbery winner DiCamillo is a master storyteller, and not just because she creates characters who dance off the pages and plots, whether epic or small, that never fail to engage and delight readers. Her biggest strength is exposing the truths that open and heal the human heart. She believes in possibilities and forgiveness and teaches her audience that the salt of life can be cut with the right measure of love. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: DiCamillo has a devoted following, plus this book has an extensive marketing campaign. That equals demand. Grades 3-6. --Ilene Cooper
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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