Title: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Target Age Group: 8 - 12 yrs
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Book Jacket Blurb:
Since I have a BEA advanced reader copy, there is none on my copy. However, here's one I found on Amazon, which was taken from School Library Journal:
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.
First of all, I loved this book overall. It's a book about the very serious topic of divorce and how it affects both children and their parents, but told in a whimsical, heartfelt manner.
One of the things I love most about the book is how it mixes those very serious issues of divorce with the fantastical story of a squirrel that Flora names Ulysses who finds himself suddenly coming to terms with super powers bestowed upon him after being sucked into a vacuum cleaner.
The squirrel superhero element is cute, and I would say the most heartfelt parts of the book revolve around him. Ulysses has strange superpowers - he can fly, lift heavy objects, and is able to understand English and write poetry on Flora's mother's old typewriter.
Ulysses allows the main character, Flora, to do something she hasn't been able to do on her own throughout the divorce process: hope.
I love the quirkiness of all the characters in the book. They're all very distinct and endearing. The book's style is a little disjointed, however. Transitions between sections and character's POVs are not very clean. There are also insertions of comic book pages which tell parts of the story, which takes some getting used to, but the illustrations (they're rough ones in the copy I have) look very fun and they involve the adventures of Ulysses the squirrel. They also seem appropriate due to Flora's love of comic books and her belief that Ulysses is a superhero and destined for great things.
Overall, great book that I would highly recommend to your middle grader.