Book Review: Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
“The story begins with a vacuum cleaner. And a squirrel. Or, to be more precise, a squirrel 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.” Booklist
Luckily for the squirrel, Flora has read every issue of Terrible Things Can Happen to You! and knows CPR. She names her new companion after the vacuum cleaner that nearly took his life and intends to keep him as a pet. She soon discovers that he’s been transformed from an ordinary squirrel, to one with superhero strength, the ability to fly, and a love for poetry. And he’s just what this self-proclaimed cynic of a little girl needs. She envisions that together they will conquer villains, defend the defenseless, and protect the weak. Or something. And they do.
DiCamillo takes a sad situation, two lonely children who have been let down by their parents, and offers something hopeful. Flora believes that her mother loves a lamp more than she loves her — and she misses her dad who now lives in an apartment across town. William Spiver’s mother has sent him to stay with his Great Aunt, Flora’s neighbor, Mrs. Tickham. Ulysses brings the children together and helps them break down the protective walls they’ve each built for themselves. And by the end of the book, he’s helped the adults see things more clearly as well. He’s definitely a superhero as far as my daughter and I are concerned!
Endearing characters and a rich vocabulary make this a standout book. The comic-style graphics which accompany the story, complement it nicely. Our favorite parts:
Becky: The poem Ulysses wrote for Flora. Quotes like “This malfeasance must be stopped.”
Miss D: Ulysses got superpowers after being vacuumed! And it was a really cute story with lots of twists and turns. The poem Ulysses wrote for Flora.
Discussion Questions: http://www.floraandulysses.com/teacher.html , http://samanthagreenmysteries.com/src
What We Found in the Sofa by Henry Clark, The Lost Treasure of Tuckernuck by Emily Fairlie, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee.
Grades: 3 -6
Becky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks