Book Review: Flora and Ulysses

Book Review: Flora and UlyssesFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
Published by Candlewick Press on September 24th 2013
Pages: 233
Buy on Amazon

Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo. It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K.G. Campbell.

Flora is in love with the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen To You, something her father got her into before her parents separated. When a squirrel gets superhero powers after being run over by a lawn mower, Flora finds herself a new friend and she wants to help him become a superhero. Ulysses gets his name from the machine that almost killed him. When her mother finds out about her new "friend", she decides it is time to end Ulysses. Her mother just became the evil villain and Flora must figure out a way to stop her.

I really found Flora to be a bit isolated and without friends. She really is a character that shows the effects divorce can have on children. The awkward moments between her and her parents spoke clear and loud. I also love the lamp that Flora hated because her mother seemed to cherish it more than her own.

While loving Kate DiCamillo's books, I found myself a bit disconnected from this book. Maybe it was the use of a bigger vocabulary than I'm used to in such a young protaganist, but that was explained a bit by the comic book obsession. There were a lot of very colorful characters which sometimes was a bit much. Once I settled into the book thinking of it more of a comic book story, it fell a little more into place, but the start left me a bit rocky.

Final Verdict: Flora and Ulysses is a fun story with deeper elements and a comic book feel. I loved Ulysses point of view and the illustrations in this novel.

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