Flora & Ulysses
The Illuminated Adventures
Illustrated by K. G. Campbell
Candlewick Press, 2013
From the book jacket flap – and I love this – “She is a natural-born cynic! He is an unassuming squirrel! Together, Flora & Ulysses will conquer villains, defend the defenseless, and protect the week. Or something.”
*Flora Belle Buckman, the cynic, a girl of around 12 who loves reading comic books, hates romance and thinks her mother cares more for a lamp than she does for her, saves and rescues an injured squirrel and goes on an epic adventure of superheroes and villains.
*Ulysses, the little grey squirrel, minding his own business in Flora’s neighbor’s backyard, is suddenly attacked by a giant vacuum cleaner. He is sucked up into the machine and then pulled back out by Flora. Flora performs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on him (yuk!) and brings him back to life (he has a legitimate NDE!). When he wakes up he has changed; he communicates with people, write poetry and even fly (all good superheroes fly, after all).
*Tootie Tickham, Flora’s neighbor and whose vacuum sucked up Ulysses (he is named after the vacuum). Tootie believes in the now sentient squirrel and when poor Ulysses is kidnapped helps Flora find him.
*William Spiver, not Billy, not Bill, not even William, but William Spiver, Tootie’s grand nephew come to stay with her for a while. William Spiver is temporarily blind, poor soul, but he is very bright and loquacious (thank you, Hermione Granger, for that cool word!!).
*Phyllis Buckman, Flora’s mom and Ulysses’ arch-nemesis (just typing that word gives me the chills!) and a writer of romance novels who kicked Flora’s dad out of the house and the marriage. She really doesn’t like squirrels.
*George Buckman, Flora’s dad, sort of a buttoned-up kinda’ guy as opposed to Phyllis who is more free-spirited. He believes in both Flora and Ulysses and comes to their rescue more than once.
There are a few more characters I didn’t mention above, but I will let them be a surprise for you. This book for middle-grade readers is so funny – it’s laugh out loud funny and at the same time will have you reaching for the tissues. The book is heavily illustrated with a couple of chapters are laid out in comic book-style but it is perfect for the superhero/villain story line. It flows very quickly and keeps the reader turning the page to find out what happens next. I’ve read a few of Kate DiCamillo’s books and this one is right up there with the best!!
Rating 4 paws out of 5