Rummanah Aasi
  Flora and Ulysses is an original, touching and oh-so-funny story starring an endearingly implausible superhero and a not-so-cynical girl. I would recommend this book for young readers who want a short, quick, and fun read.

Description: 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.

Review: Flora and Ulysses is an adorable middle grade read that has plenty of laughs, a tinge of sadness, and some depth for a good book discussion. The story begins unlike any other children's book I've read thus far with a super powerful vacuum cleaner...and a squirrel. To paint a clearer picture, a hungry squirrel en route looking for acorns who gets sucked into a Ulysses Super Suction wielded by Flora’s neighbor, Mrs. Tickham. The rather hairless squirrel that is spit out is not the same one that went in.
  The squirrel is feared dead until the comic book obsessed Flora remembers CPR and rescues the  squirrel, newly named Ulysses, is still hungry, but now he has many thoughts in his head. He can understand Flora talking to him and can communicate with head gestures, which convinces Flora that Ulysses is a superhero like The Amazing Incandesto, whose comic-book adventures Flora read with her father. As we all know every superhero has a super villain to overcome. In the case of Ulysses, the villain is Flora's mother, an author of romance books who loves her career more than her lonely ex-husband or equally lonely precocious daughter.
  Since Flora’s father and mother have split up, Flora has become a confirmed and defiant cynic. She is sequestered in her room by choice and has very few friends. Her cynical heart begins to melt when she forms a bond with Ulysses who can type, compose poems, fly, and adores Flora with all of her quirks and flaws. Flora and Ulysses go on many adventures that is triggered by a chain of events that is sparked by Flora's mother attempts to kill Ulysses. During these adventures we not only see how heroic Ulysses can be, but also Flora's character growth in believing in possibilities and the importance of forgiveness.
  Th text is extremely witty and droll. There are some big vocabulary words sprinkled throughout the story which I liked because it challenges readers to figure out the meaning using inference and context clues. The vocabulary also demonstrates how precocious Flora really is and her love of books. The story is accompanied by comic-book--style black-and-white illustrations perfectly relay the all-too-hilarious adventures of Flora, Ulysses and a cast of eccentric characters that bring this story to life. I wasn't the biggest fan of Because of Winn-Dixie and didn't really understand the appeal of DiCamillo's work until reading this one. I do plan on reading her other books.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution:  None. Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

If you like this book try: Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny: Detectives extraordinaire! by Horvath, Polly
7 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Poor squirrel! Getting sucked into a vacuum cleaner would be singularly unpleasant I would imagine. Though he came out of it a superhero though, so that's a bonus! Sounds like a fun and unusual tale Rummanah, I'm going to recommend it to my younger cousins:)


  2. I can't imagine sucking a squirrel up in a vacuum, but this is a kid's book so anything can happen. It sounds really cute so I am adding to my kids' pinterest board!


  3. Oh this sounds like a great book for me to recommend to my little cuz'ins. :) Especially those with teachers in the family. The big words are such a plus. Great review!


  4. I am so glad you reviewed this! I love Kate DiCamillo's books but haven't seen anything about this one. I knew I'd love it, I just wanted to know what it was about. SOLD! Great review, Rummanah!


  5. This sounds so cute, Rummanah! I love stories with talking animals and really like the incorporation of big vocabulary words and the fact that the MC loves books. I'll be adding this to my wishlist.


  6. Oh my goodness this sounds like exactly the sort of middle grade I would adore as an adult, with zero shame. :-) Flora sounds like a wonderful and intelligent character, and I can't wait to read about her relationship with Ulysses. Wonderful review, thanks for putting this on my radar!


  7. Candace Says:

    I just wrote up my review for this one! (Though I'm not sure when it will post.) I do love Kate DiCamillo though I haven't read all her books yet. I found this book adorable. I saw that some reviews said they didn't find it realistic that she used such big words and stuff, but I agree with you, it will urge kids to find out the meaning. Plus, kids are all different, some DO use big words. Also, who cares if it's realistic, it's about a superhero squirrel, obviously that's NOT realistic! Glad you enjoyed this too!


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