Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

16052012Flora & Ulysess: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo. Ages 8-12. Candlewick Press. 233 pages. Copy provided by my library.

Here’s a link to a fun interview with the author.

I was instantly charmed by Flora & Ulysses. It is absolutely just my kind of book. Flora, our smart, cynical young heroine loves to read about the adventures of the Illuminated Man in the comics her dad used to read to her. But now her parents are divorced and she lives with her mom, who writes romance novels and hates comic books. Ulysses, the superhero squirrel, got his powers when he was vacuumed up in a Ulysses turbo vacuum (it is also how he got his name). He was rescued by Flora, and became a flying, typing, poetry-writing superhero squirrel.

This book has a cast of fantastic peculiar side characters and it is both laugh-out-loud hilarious and tug-at-your-heartstrings sweet. There are comic book panels, drawn by K. G. Campbell, that occasionally further the story. And those scenes of action told through comic books style images really make this book fantastic. We even get to hear parts of the story from Ulysses’ point of view, and DiCamillo has nailed the narrative voice of a squirrel, let me tell you. It is simply perfect. The same goes for the voice of the entire book. It really is just pitch-perfect. There is a lot of clever wordplay in this book, which only adds to the charm and the characters of Flora and William Spiver. At is heart, though, it is a book about finding your place in the world, and it does a very fantastic job of sharing that message.

I fell in love with this super-powered squirrel and his best friend and champion Flora and I am going to be excited to share this with the children I work with. This very well may be one of my favorite books of the year.

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