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Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures Hardcover – September 24, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6–Flora, obsessed with superhero comics, immediately recognizes and gives her wholehearted support to a squirrel that, after a near-fatal brush with a vacuum cleaner, develops the ability to fly and type poetry. The 10-year-old hides her new friend from the certain disapproval of her self-absorbed, romance-writer mother, but it is on the woman's typewriter that Ulysses pours out his creations. Like DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant (Candlewick, 2009), this touching piece of magical realism unfolds with increasing urgency over a mere few days and brings its somewhat caricatured, old-fashioned characters together into what becomes a supportive community for all. Campbell's rounded and gentle soft-penciled illustrations, at times in the form of panel art furthering the action, wonderfully match and add to the sweetness of this oddball story. Rife with marvelously rich vocabulary reminiscent of the early superhero era (e.g., “Holy unanticipated occurrences!”) and amusing glimpses at the world from the point of view of Ulysses the supersquirrel, this book will appeal to a broad audience of sophisticated readers. There are plenty of action sequences, but the novel primarily dwells in the realm of sensitive, hopeful, and quietly philosophical literature.–Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DCα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*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
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Top Customer Reviews
In Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures there are many unanticipated occurrences and it all begins with a vacuum cleaner, a squirrel and a natural born cynic named Flora. There is a wacky cast of characters including a self absorbed romance writer, an air head neighbor, an emotionally traumatized great-nephew next door and a sad, sad father. They all tip toe right up to the line of being too wacky but only cross the line a little and in such silly ways I loved them for it. In fact, I won't even try to give you a plot synopsis because honestly, it's a simple and predictable plot but a joy to read and discover on your own.
Kate DiCamillo books are always wonderful read alouds, but this one is just BEGGING for a dramatic reading. I gave it to my brilliant eight year old for Christmas and we've had a terrific time either reading alone or together. This is a great book for sitting close on the sofa so you can both see the pictures but leave plenty of room for dramatic gestures which you'll probably find necessary as you read. The illuminations (illustrations) are basic yet expressive and they really enhance the humor. Honestly, it's hard to capture the funny wonderfulness of Flora and Ulysses in a review. You have to read it for yourself. :)
(Note: this review is for the hardcover, page-turning edition of this book only. Much like graphic novels, I think the comic book-style artwork is better appreciated in material, non-swipy format.)
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Genre: Middle Grade Fiction.Read more