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

4.3 59
by Kate DiCamillo, K. G. Campbell
     
 

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Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal

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

Overview

Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal

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 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.

Editorial Reviews

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.
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
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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763676711
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
03/10/2015
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
14,739
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Kate DiCamillo is the author of many beloved books for young readers, including The Tale of Despereaux, which received a Newbery Medal; Because of Winn-Dixie, which received a Newbery Honor; The Tiger Rising, a National Book Award Finalist; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, winner of a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award; The Magician’s Elephant; and the best-selling Mercy Watson series. Kate DiCamillo lives in Minneapolis.

K. G. Campbell is the author-illustrator of Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters. He was born in Kenya, raised in Scotland, and now lives in southern California.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of Birth:
March 25, 1964
Place of Birth:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:
B.A. in English, University of Florida at Gainesville, 1987

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Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 59 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it .it is cute!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a great realistic fiction with action, drama, a flying squirrel and an orange dumdum. This book also portrays that comic books CAN be good to read sometimes and that dreams CAN come true.
libraryworm More than 1 year ago
I love Kate DiCamillo; I have read all of her books. This wasn't my favorite read of hers but it was a tender, heart-warming, adventurous story as she consistantly writes. The book was written in a fun way with comics, illustrations and short chapters!
Gardenseed More than 1 year ago
Under all the squirrelly fun this is a book with a serious theme: parental and spousal rejection. Flora Belle, whose parents are divorced, thinks that her mother loves her lamp made in the shape of a girl and named Mary Anne, more than she loves Flora Belle. When in a fit of lost temper the mother admits that without Flora Belle her life would be easier, the child is devastated and takes an opportunity to run away in order to save her squirrel friend. There is also a boy whose mother has rejected him because he has destroyed her new husband's car. The boy, William Spiver, then chooses to wear dark glasses that prevent him from seeing. He lives with a great-aunt and uncle who, though somewhat silly, have taken him in and love him.  In the end, the lamp is smashed, mother admits that she loves her Flora Belle more than anything, the parents get back together, and William Spiver breaks his dark glasses and knows that his great -aunt and also Flora Belle truly love him. They all love the squirrel who also loves them. The squirrel's antics and some adult silliness help to make the story bearable. In the end, of course, all is well , but this reader is wondering if children who have felt rejected by their parents would be helped by reading that Flora Belle's mother loved her after all and not an inanimate object, the lamp shaped like a girl. The other message is that we need to find love where we can if our families do not provide it.  However, there are abused and mistreated children in this world. Do they always find love and acceptance? Perhaps it is not wrong to hold out hope for them too.  This is by no means your ordinary funny animal story and should not be judged as such.  In the hands of a skilled adult who gives it to a child who needs it and follows up with love and support it may be exactly the right book to supply a need. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Y will loveit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Flora and Ulysses takes place in a normal town in 2013. The book is about two weeks long. The story of Flora and Ulysses all started with a vacuum cleaner. The Ulysses 2000X, a vacuum cleaner, sucked up Ulysses, an unassuming squirrel, and almost killed him. Lucky for him, Flora Belle, a natural-born cynic, saved his life. But there's something different with Ulysses than other squirrels. Ulysses is a villain fighting, superhero with super powers! Flora and Ulysses meet plenty of unique, quirky, and funny characters along the way. He and Flora will conquer villains, defend the defenseless, and protect the weak! Or something. I think Flora and Ulysses is a five star book. There is nothing negative I can say about this book except that there could be fewer pictures and more words. But I love the plot of the book. Flora is a natural-born cynic and Ulysses is a superhero squirrel. If you like graphic novels, adventure, and fiction, but can't decide which to read, I would recommend this book to you. This book was a real page turner. Flora and Ulysses is an amazing book!
book4children More than 1 year ago
Kids that like to laugh will be over the moon with this book. Flora rescues Ulysses (a squirrel) from a vacuum cleaner, gives him CPR, and takes him home. The experience of being vacuumed has changed Ulysses, however. He is now a superhero squirrel (or something). He can fly, write poetry, and vanquish mean cats. Flora is an odd girl, but her cynical personality is perfect for the story. The boy that lives next door is a temporarily blind philosopher and drives Flora crazy. I loved Ulysses poetry. I also loved the way we got his point of view sometimes. He was obsessed with eating. He would have grandiose thoughts and ambitions, and then it always came back to food. The illustrations are fantastic. They add to the personality of the book and are very entertaining. I especially liked the comic strip sections where Ulysses slipped into superhero mode. Flora and Ulysses is full of friendship, love, and laugh out loud moments. I loved it. Content: clean
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My whole family is excited to read this awesome story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Different than most of Kate DiCamillos books, may appear do be silly but actually has a serious topic and is a good read. Highly recomended
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This week I read the book Flora & Ulysses.  I gave the book three stars.  I think it was overall a good book.  You should read this because it was a good read for young readers, as myself.  I recommend this book.  It has a lot of funny parts. - Gejnique
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book, especially the end because her mom confessed she took Flora's squirrel. I think everyone should read this book because it's a good kids book and I think kids would love Flora,William Spiver, Tootie and Ulysses's adventure!  - Rachel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that anybody who loves the book Winn-Dixie, would love this book, too.  I give this story 4 stars because it is funny, has a lot of characters and i love Flora and Ulysses.  Maleena
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To tell you the truth i wasen't that impressed by the book but it was a great book! Some chapters may be a little boreing but it was a good book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is so amazing. As George Buckman would say, "Holy bagumba!"
Anonymous 4 days ago
Haha
Anonymous 26 days ago
Anonymous 3 months ago
One of the best young dult
Anonymous 3 months ago
This book really is great I read it one summer day. I thought that I would only read a couple pages but the book sucked me in and I finished it in one day!!!! This is a great book! Make sure you read this book!
Anonymous 10 months ago
IT WAS AWESOME
Anonymous 12 months ago
Awesome!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So well written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in naked.