Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Children's Book Review: Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

book cover
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures 
Kate DiCamillo

Flora, a born cynic and comic book aficionado, takes part in some truly amazing events. The first of which is rescuing a squirrel from the maw her neighbor’s rogue Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X vacuum cleaner. She resuscitates the squirrel and names him Ulysses. From the moment she brings him back to life, she is certain that the bizarre circumstances of his accident will imbue Ulysses with superpowers and she is not disappointed. Ulysses proves to be super-powerful indeed as he writes poetry, wields heavy objects, and flies! She can’t believe her luck, to foster a budding superhero! But, as Flora well knows, every hero must have a villain in their story and Ulysses is no exception. But real trouble brews when they find that his arch-nemesis is Flora’s own mother. That’s a big problem. Flora teams up with an unlikely crew of friends to keep Ulysses safe until he can realize his full potential and learn to fight for good.

This title is the winner of the 2014 Newbery Award, and I can certainly see why. The story is compelling with a mixture of quirky characters, super-squirrel action sequences, and a surprisingly sentimental ending. There is a great mix of comic panels interspersed with the text of the story to draw in reluctant readers as well as highlight the comic/superhero theme of the book. This book can work nicely for all ages. The younger kids are sure to be drawn in by the illustrations and premise while the upper elementary school readers will get a lot more of the humor. Flora’s affinity for SAT level vocabulary words can even teach parents a thing or two.

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Library

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