Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
  • Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
  • Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
  • Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
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Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

4.3 46
by Kate DiCamillo, K. G. Campbell
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Elisabeth Egan
Unlike some of her fresh-as-paint fictional counterparts, Flora has gravitas. She is a self-proclaimed "natural-born cynic" with a misanthropic streak reminiscent of Harriet the Spy…In Flora and Ulysses, longtime [DiCamillo] fans will find a happy marriage of Mercy Watson's warmth and wackiness and Edward Tulane's gentle life lessons. In Flora, they will find a girl worth knowing, and one they will remember.
Publishers Weekly
Newbery Medalist DiCamillo and illustrator Campbell meld prose with comics sequences in a broad comedy tinged with sadness. Bitter about her parents’ divorce, Flora Buckman has withdrawn into her favorite comic book, The Amazing Incandesto! and memorized the advisories in its ongoing bonus feature, Terrible Things Can Happen to You! She puts those life-saving tips into action when a squirrel is swallowed whole by a neighbor’s new vacuum cleaner, the Ulysses Super-Suction Multi-Terrain 2000X. Flora resuscitates the squirrel, christens him after the vacuum, and witnesses a superhero-like transformation: Ulysses is now über-strong, can fly, and composes poetry. Despite supremely quirky characters and dialogue worthy of an SAT prep class, there’s real emotion at the heart of this story involving two kids who have been failed by the most important people in their lives: their parents. It’s into this profound vacuum that Ulysses really flies, demonstrating an unconditional love for his rescuer, trumped only perhaps by his love for food and a desire “to make the letters on the keyboard speak the truth of his heart.” Ages 10–up. Author’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Flora, obsessed with superhero comics, immediately recognizes and gives her wholehearted support to a squirrel that, after a near-fatal brush with a vacuum cleaner, develops the ability to fly and type poetry. The 10-year-old hides her new friend from the certain disapproval of her self-absorbed, romance-writer mother, but it is on the woman's typewriter that Ulysses pours out his creations. Like DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant (Candlewick, 2009), this touching piece of magical realism unfolds with increasing urgency over a mere few days and brings its somewhat caricatured, old-fashioned characters together into what becomes a supportive community for all. Campbell's rounded and gentle soft-penciled illustrations, at times in the form of panel art furthering the action, wonderfully match and add to the sweetness of this oddball story. Rife with marvelously rich vocabulary reminiscent of the early superhero era (e.g., "Holy unanticipated occurrences!") and amusing glimpses at the world from the point of view of Ulysses the supersquirrel, this book will appeal to a broad audience of sophisticated readers. There are plenty of action sequences, but the novel primarily dwells in the realm of sensitive, hopeful, and quietly philosophical literature.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
From the Publisher
Newbery-winner DiCamillo is a master storyteller not just because she creates characters who dance off the pages and plots, whether epic or small, that never fail to engage and delight readers. Her biggest strength is exposing the truths that open and heal the human heart. She believes in possibilities and forgiveness and teaches her audience that the salt of life can be cut with the right measure of love.
—Booklist (starred review)

Original, touching and oh-so-funny tale starring an endearingly implausible superhero and a not-so-cynical girl.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Despite supremely quirky characters and dialogue worthy of an SAT prep class, there’s real emotion at the heart of this story involving two kids who have been failed by the most important people in their lives: their parents.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Rife with marvelously rich vocabulary reminiscent of the early superhero era (e.g., "Holy unanticipated occurrences!") and amusing glimpses at the world from the point of view of Ulysses the supersquirrel, this book will appeal to a broad audience of sophisticated readers. There are plenty of action sequences, but the novel primarily dwells in the realm of sensitive, hopeful, and quietly philosophical literature.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Eccentric characters, snappy prose and the fantastical plot give this delightful novel a giddy, over-the-top patina, but the core is big and hopeful, contemplative and bursting with heart. No small feat, even for a superhero like DiCamillo.
—Shelf Awareness

In "Flora and Ulysses," longtime fans will find a happy marriage of Mercy Watson's warmth and wackiness and Edward Tulane's gentle life lessons. In Flora, they will find a girl worth knowing, and one they will remember.
—The New York Times Book Review

Full of Ms. DiCamillo's dry, literate wit and bursting every so often into action-packed comic-strip sequences illustrated by K.G. Campbell... [a] funny, eccentric novel.
—The Wall Street Journal

[L]augh-out-loud funny, tender, difficult and hopeful all at once. ... Cynics beware, this book is meant for those open to joy, wonder, loyalty and friendship of all stripes.
—The Huffington Post

Kate DiCamillo's newest book ... is that rarest of all treasures, a truly inventive and appealing children's middle-grade novel.
—The Boston Globe

[A] fast-paced, funny tale. ... Like all of DiCamillo's books, Flora & Ulysses is filled with adventure, but also plenty of humor and soul. ... DiCamillo has seamlessly blended comic-book elements and a zany cast of characters into a thoroughly original, heartwarming tale.
—BookPage

This is a fun and clever tale of an unlikely hero uniting an even more unlikely cast of characters. Kate DiCamillo strikes again. Each character is well-drawn, the story is packed with fun references and asides. It's a perfect blend of poignancy and magic.
—Fall 2013 Parents' Choice Book Awards

DiCamillo does here what she does best, which is tell a deceptively simple story that elucidates big truths. ... And though the ideas are sophisticated, the storytelling is engaging enough to lure in a reader who might be put off by a doorstop of a novel. This slim volume also features illustrations by K.G. Campbell... [which] jell seamlessly with DiCamillo's prose.
—Austin American Statesman

Beautifully written... The accompanying illustrations and cartoons are enchanting, and the remarkable DiCamillo demonstrates she has storytelling power to spare.
—The Chicago Tribune

Though their adventures are wild and wacky, the heart of the story is about a girl adrift and how she finds her way home. Pencil illustrations and comic book panels by K.G. Campbell complement Kate DiCamillo's text perfectly. After reading Flora and Ulysses, you'll be asking when the next installment is due.
—NPR Books

Much like its furry hero, this swiftly paced tale is full of bold leaps and surprising turns. ... K.G. Campbell’s occasional drawings supplement the narrative and brilliantly interpret the characters, from the partially bald Ulysses to chain-smoking Mom. As with her previous big-hearted novels, DiCamillo proves once again that "astonishments are hidden inside the most mundane being," and gives us another fantastic story.
—The Washington Post

Beautifully written... The accompanying illustrations and cartoons are enchanting, and the remarkable DiCamillo demonstrates she has storytelling power to spare.
—The Chicago Tribune (syndicated from Tribune Newspapers)

Brilliantly written and graphically engaging, it’s filled with adventure, poetry, and compassion. Worth reading, and equally appealing for kids and adults.
—The Boston Globe, Best of 2013

Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Flora Belle Buckman loves to read comic books, much to her mother’s distress, who would rather Flora read novels, since Flora’s mother writes romance novels. They live next door to Mr. and Ms. Tickham, Tootie, who are now the proud owners of a new Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X vacuum cleaner that Mr. Tickham bought for his wife’s birthday. Tootie, on the other hand, is a bit overwhelmed by such a present, especially when her husband urges her to try out the multi-terrain feature in their back yard. Unfortunately, the vacuum cleaner sucks up a squirrel until all that’s left is a tail hanging out of the mouth of the machine. Flora witnesses this from her bedroom window and races to the scene of the accident, where she lifts the heavy vacuum and shakes the squirrel out. The poor little creature is now stripped of most of his fur and appears to be dead, but Flora performs CPR to revive him. His first thought, of course, is how hungry he is. He picks up the Ulysses, gives it a good shake, and proceeds to eat what falls out. Flora immediately decides the squirrel is a super-hero and expects great things from him. In DiCamillo’s usual enchanting way, Flora and the squirrel—now named Ulysses—have many adventures and Flora learns to be less of a cynic. Plus, she teaches her mother to love squirrels. The comic book style black-and-white illustrations add to the story quite well. All in all, the book is a lot of fun and well worth reading. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan; Ages 8 to 12.
Kirkus Reviews
When a cynical comic-book fanatic discovers her own superhero, life becomes wonderfully supercharged. Despite the contract her mother made her sign to "turn her face away from the idiotic high jinks of comics," 10-year-old Flora avidly follows her favorite superhero's adventures. Flora's mother writes romance novels and seems more in love with her books than with her lonely ex-husband or equally lonely daughter. When a neighbor accidentally vacuums a squirrel into a Ulysses 2000X vacuum cleaner, Flora resuscitates him into a "changed squirrel," able to lift the 2000X with a single paw. Immediately assuming he's a superhero, Flora names the squirrel "Ulysses" and believes together they will "[shed] light into the darkest corners of the universe." Able to understand Flora, type, compose poetry and fly, the transformed Ulysses indeed exhibits superpowers, but he confronts his "arch-nemesis" when Flora's mother tries to terminate him, triggering a chain of events where Ulysses becomes a real superhero. The very witty text and droll, comic-book–style black-and-white illustrations perfectly relay the all-too-hilarious adventures of Flora, Ulysses and a cast of eccentric characters who learn to believe in the impossible and have "capacious" hearts. Original, touching and oh-so-funny tale starring an endearingly implausible superhero and a not-so-cynical girl. (Fantasy. 8-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763660406
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
09/24/2013
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
109,043
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.88(d)
Lexile:
520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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