A cute, sweet, humorous adventure story. The characters are entertaining and worm their way into your heart. There are lessons of love, faith, family, beliefs and life. A fun read.
I have read all of Dicamillos books and really enjoyed them all. So when I saw she had released another book I was excited to read it. This book was a departure from Dicamillos usual deep and beautiful writing, it was pretty darn hilarious but touches on some deep topics all the same. I ended up really really loving it.
Flora is suffering through her parents divorce, her mother is a romance novelist and her father lives apart from them by himself. Flora and her dad always used to read a comic book entitled The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto and Flora is obsessed with this comic. She draws a lot of her lifes lessons from this source. Everything changes when her neighbor accidentally sucks up a squirrel in a vacuum cleaner, Flora saves the squirrel, and then they all discover that the squirrel has superhero-like powers.
Everything about this book is quirky and weird...and somewhat hilarious. The first portion of the book is especially funny, I laughed out loud a number of times at the crazy outrageousness of the whole situation.
Flora has decided that she is a cynic and will never feel or care about anything at all. Really she is mostly lonely and unhappy living with her mother. Her mother pushes Flora to be as normal as possible, but Flora would like to be herself. It doesnt help that Flora got along much better with her father anyway.
Things get even crazier when Flora finds out that her mom has a plan to kill Ulysses, the squirrel with the superhero powers, and her mom wants her dad to help with the plot. What follows is a crazy series of events in which the squirrel flies, writes poetry, and brings a smile back to Floras dads face.
Flora meets another quirky kid named William. William believes he is blind and talks just as quirkily as Flora does. William also has some large emotional issues he is dealing with at home. Both William and Flora are dealing with their different family problems in different ways and the friendship they form helps them both.
Another character that was very intriguing is Dr. Meescham. She seems to have a pretty upbeat and positive view on life, she obviously lived through the Holocaust and bases a lot of her life philosophies on the kindnesses she saw in that horrible situation. She is kind of the wise old sage of this story.
The format is intriguing and is something I have seen a lot more of lately. It is a mesh between graphic novel and traditional novel format. The graphic novel portions are hilarious and incredibly well done. I also enjoyed the chapters where we hear from the squirrels POV.
This story does have a fantasy element, but most of the story is about family and allowing kids to be themselves. The whole thing is a bit quirky and downright hilarious because it is Ulysses the squirrel and his poetry that kind of end up bringing everyone together.
Overall this was a fabulously entertaining book. It is much more fun and lighthearted than Dicamillos other books, but no less inspiring. I really enjoyed reading it and enjoyed all of the quirky characters. I also enjoyed the message about letting everyone be who they want to be and loving them for their quirks.
It sort of seems like cheating to leave a glowing review the day after a book has won the Newberry, but I honestly was reading it at the time and hadn't finished yet. (I had also given it a mental 5 stars before I heard the news.) I would not hesitate to hand this to any elementary age reader. There's a strong, quirky heroine who is prepared for any emergency thanks to 2 solid years of comic book reading. There's a temporarily blind boy to act as her sidekick, supportive neighbors at both of her divorced parents' houses, and a flying squirrel who types poetry. How can you not like that? There are also delightful illustrations occasionally done in comic book style. Enjoy!
Flora is a self-proclaimed cynic. She retreats into her comic books and happily stays away from her mother, who doesn't seem to have much time for her anyways. Everything seems to be rather normal, until Tootie (the nosy neighbor) vacuum's up a squirrel. Through this one incident, the squirrel survives and gains super powers. The squirrel, Ulysses becomes Flora's best friend. Along with William Spivey, Tootie's temporarily blind nephew, Flora is pulled out of her shell and forced out into the world and away from her safety net of comic books.
First, I have enjoyed everything that Kate DiCamillo has written. She is descriptive and usually very humorous. This is no different. Each character is fully developed with their own quirks. There are so many funny parts in the novel that it's hard to stop laughing, but there are some touching parts as well. Flora's mother definitely leaves much to be desired. The novel itself is easy to understand and will fit with most of DiCamillo's general audience, but the vocabulary is pretty tough. Who said that comic books couldn't increase your vocabulary development? Flora learned what malfeasance meant from reading comics.