Flora and Ulysses


Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal

So, if I tell you this book is about a squirrel who can fly and who becomes a superhero but not before he is vaccuumed up by a Ulysses Super-Suction Multi Terrain 2000X vacuum cleaner will you worry for my health?  

I need you to hark back a decade or two and recall another little book about a girl and a pig.  In that book there is a spider who can weave words into her web.  These words are miraculous.  In Flora & Ulysses we discover a squirrel who can type and write poetry.  Equally miraculous.

Here you have a story written in short bursts of action with plenty of chapter ending cliffhangers and some heartwarming characters.  Three cheers for Professor Meescham who leaves her window open with the hope that life will charge in.  Three cheers for William Spires, who though temporarily blinded, can see that Flora is a true beauty.  Three cheers for Flora's kindly father who has a very good heart.  And a rousing raspberry for Flora's mother who can't see beyond the lampshade of that hideous shepherdess lamp lurking near her staircase.

Here is a story of daring, of courage, of loyalty and of heart.  Here is a story of hopeful souls who appreciate the beauty of a life and welcome the unexpected with snacks.

Flora and her mother do not see eye to eye on anything and Flora's mother is determined to get rid of that pesky squirrel.  Flora has read an important comic book THE ILLUMINATED ADVENTURES OF THE AMAZING INCANDESTO and uses it as a manual for handling the difficult and drastic situations life and her mother dream up.

Here is a story that confronts the weak of spirit, celebrates the sensitive, throws a spotlight on parents who simply do not choose to see what they are doing to their children through their thoughtless words and deeds, and dangles the miraculous possibility that any one of us can be a hero.

This would make a first-rate read aloud in any third, fourth or fifth grade class.  Prepare for silence and laughter and hopefully a chance to talk truths.

(Includes some wonderful graphic novel content for those who love pictures in their books.)

234 pages    Ages 8-12    978-07636-6040-6

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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I finished reading Kate DiCamillo's Flora and Ulysses. It's pretty deep for some JUV readers. She is really talking about loneliness, divorce, hopelessness....weighty subjects involving three very likeable characters.....12 year old Flora and Ulysses, a squirrel, and a boy visiting Flor's neighbor who is dealing with similar issues. The ending is up beat, but not in a sentimental way....still lots of problems to work out , but with better means to cope with them. The illustrations are great, mostly done in a soft grays which sort of goes along with the serious issues written about.
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