DiCamillo, Kate, and K. G. Campbell. Flora & Ulysses: the illuminated adventures. Somerville, Mass: Candlewick Press, 2013. Print.
Audience: Ages 8-12, Grade 3-6
Summary: Flora Belle Buckman loves comic books and superheroes, but she doesn’t believe much in happy endings. When a squirrel is accidently vacuumed up by her neighbor, Flora steps in and rescues it with amazing consequences. The squirrel has super powers – Ulysses is strong, can fly, and writes poetry! Flora helps protect Ulysses from his nemesis, experiences some amazing adventures, and discovers hope for her world along the way.
Strengths: There are some laugh out loud funny parts to this story and the amazing illustrations would appeal to comic book lovers. The message is an endearing one of hope, and DiCamillo has created some unforgettable characters.
Weaknesses: At times, the book could become too quirky for some readers. The parents’ decision to kill the squirrel could be upsetting to kids who are animal lovers. I find it difficult to pinpoint a good reading level for this book – while the illustrations and style would most appeal to a younger reader, the vocabulary is often very advanced and would be most appropriate for an older one. I think it would be an excellent read aloud or a recommendation for an advanced younger reader.
Uses: The characters in this book are quirky and memorable and would easily lend themselves to a character study (CCSS ELA:RL.3 Grades K-6). The vocabulary is advanced (CCSS ELA:L.4 Grades 3-5) and the writing style is unique (CCSS ELA:W.3 Grades K-6). The poetry could be used to study poetic style (CCSS ELA:RL.10 Grades 1-6). An art teacher could use this as an example of illustration and cartoon.
· Mercy Watson – Kate DiCamillo (From the same author, the book series about a pet pig who loves cars, trick or treating, and especially toast.)
· Lulu and the Brontosaurus and Lulu Walks the Dogs- Judith Viorst (Feisty heroine Lulu is determined to get what she wants. Illustrated novel.)
· Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney (Illustrated novel series about a boy’s trials in school.)
· Clementine- Sara Pennypacker (Illustrated novel series about a girl who is always into some kind of mischief.)
Parents’ Choice Gold
Publisher’s Weekly Best Books
Texas Bluebonnet Award
Other: Starred reviews in Kirkus, Booklist, School Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly
Resources for Librarians & Teachers:
Teacher’s Guide: http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/076366040X.btg.1.pdf