Sunday, May 4, 2014

"Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures" by Kate DiCamillo; Illustrated by K. G. Campbell

(image borrowed from

4/5 stars

This 2014 Newbery winning book is actually a hybrid novel.  The majority is told in novel form, but several times, switches to a comic form, especially when something truly heroic and super is happening.

It’s the story of a girl named Flora, a self proclaimed cynic, and a squirrel named Ulysseus, who develops super hero type powers after an unfortunate run in with a vacuum cleaner.

I could see this story as being very popular among kids.  In fact, I have book talked it to some of my older kids and have gotten a few of them interested in the story.  It’s funny, fast paced, and entertaining. 

That being said, as an adult, I found it to be almost a little too much.  All the quirkiness of the story kind of hit me in the face and just kept coming and coming.  Almost like Kate DiCamillo was trying too hard to make this seem like an award winning book (which obviously worked).  I was glad when it all ended and I could actually sit back and reflect on what happened.

I did really like the characters.  You can tell that underneath her “cynic” persona, Flora is a normal ten-year-old girl going through her parents divorce and basically being ignored by her mother.  She just wants to know that her mother loves her and approves of her.  I will say, I hated Flora’s mother the entire way through.  I’ve recently had discussions with other librarians about how that woman should not even be allowed custody of Flora. Always good to have a villain that people deeply despise J.

I look forward to getting my students to read this.  I think they will really enjoy and a big congratulations to Ms. DiCamillo for another Newbery win!

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