Saturday, 31 May 2014
Review: Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Publisher: Walker Books
Released: May 1st, 2014
It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw it coming - the vacuum cleaner, that is. As for self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, she has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You! so she 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 Flora will be changed too as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.
Flora and Ulysses is a lovely middle grade book; it's charming, kooky and features a very clever squirrel who I quickly fell in love with. It's fantastically illustrated by K.G. Campbell and is an absolute joy to look at. My favourite illustrations are those of Ulysses the squirrel doing absolutely anything - the more Ulysses the better!
One day, Flora Belle Buckman sees a squirrel being sucked into a powerful vacuum cleaner. She runs outside to save him and the two soon become inseparable. Flora quickly realises that Ulysses isn't your average garden squirrel, and reviving him has made him into some sort of super squirrel with a penchant for flying and a love of poetry. Flora and Ulysees make a dynamic duo, looking out for each other and finding out just what true friendship is, even though Flora is a cynic and Ulysses spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about food.
I found this book to be really unusual and not at all what I expected. I particularly like the comic book strips depicting parts of the story; they fit in well with DiCamillo's text and add to the unconventional tone of the whole book. I did think it would be funnier than it was, but that's probably because of what I've come to expect from MG novels. It's still a refreshing read, though, and is definitely a book worth experiencing.
Flora and Ulysses is a book I'd recommend to middle grade readers looking for something a bit different, something out of the ordinary with memorable characters and brilliant pictures. Ulysses is a character I'm sure everyone will love, while Flora is someone who will inevitably become the envy of every young reader desperately in need of a pet. I just hope they don't kidnap innocent squirrels from their gardens!