Review of “Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures”

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
By Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by K. G. Campbell
Published by Candlewick press
240 pages

This is a fun book that has adventure and a little humor. I wouldn’t call it a fantasy book exactly, but it has some fantasy in it.

Flora Belle Buckman is a 10 year old girl who calls herself a “natural born cynic”, but I don’t agree. She’s not exactly an idealist, but she’s certainly not a pessimist.

One day Flora is reading a comic book when she sees a neighbor, Ms. Tootie, with an out-of-control vacuum outside her window. All of a sudden, she vacuumed up a squirrel. “Holy unanticipated occurrences!” (That’s one of Flora’s and her father’s favorite expressions). As it turns out this is no ordinary squirrel. It was Ulysses.

Who is Ulysses you ask? Ulysses is a poet. Ulysses is a scavenger. Ulysses is a super hero! Ulysses wasn’t always a super hero. Something happened when Ms. Tootie accidentally vacuumed him up with a Ulysses 2000x vacuum.

When Flora saved him from the vacuum by shaking him out, he surprised her with his strength when he lifted the vacuum over his head and shook it. But he did that only because he wanted the crackers that had gotten sucked up with him in the vacuum.  Later, Flora also discovered that Ulysses can fly and write poetry (but he has to type his poetry out on a keyboard because he can’t hold a pencil). Of course, Flora named him Ulysses after the vacuum.

As everyone knows, every super hero has to have an arch nemesis. It doesn’t take Ulysses long to find his. It happens to be Flora’s mom! Flora’s mother, a romance writer, wants Flora’s father to kill Ulysses with a shovel (to stop Flora from acting weird)! But when he doesn’t, she tries to do it herself! How does he escape? You will have to read the book.

This is not a typical novel. Some of the pages are actually in comic strip form. There are also some pictures penciled in black and white. I like the way the author mixes comics with the novel. I think it’s fun and unique.

I think this is a great, fun book for kids ages 8-12

By the way, this book actually won the 2014 Newberry Medal. The Newberry Medal is an annual award given by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. You can find more information here.


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