Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
Kate DiCamillo (illustrated by K G Campbell)
September 24th 2013
Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo. It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the 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 that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K.G. Campbell.
These past few books I've read have all books friendships. The friendship between two boys as they find look for a lost father, two girls in World War Two, and, that most famous and profound friendship of all, the friendship between a girl and a superpowered squirrel. Yep. I feel like I could just leave it there because I already know that you want to read this book after that sentence. But just in case you don't, I'll go on a bit more.
I think that Flora & Ulysses is the cutest book I have ever read. You might think that I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. It is just the sweetest, loveliest book that I've ever read. It's all about family and friendship, and acceptance, too, in a way. And it unexpectedly tugged at my heartstrings a tiny bit, which doesn't happen to me too often with books anymore. I think that it had to do with the fact that it was literally just so adorable that it made my heart go all squishy like it does when I go and see kids films. And this is probably why I try and avoid reading most MG fiction that isn't about talking magical skeletons. Sorry, going a bit off track there. But yeah, it was just so sweet to see the friendship between Flora and Ulysses grow, and also Flora and William Spiver, and both of her parents. I was really glad that it went in the direction that it went in. I don't know. I know that I'm just repeating it but this is just such a lovely book and if I'd had it when I was 10-12ish I would have completely adored it (not that I don't now, of course!).
I also really liked the fact that it had a lot of comic influences, and I loved seeing some of it being told in a graphic-novel format. And there were a lot of pictures in it too that were really cute. Plus I liked the art style a lot. It suited the story. Plus I loved that Flora was so into comics, and how this was like a cornerstone to her and her father, and her and Ulysses's relationships. See, comics ARE worthwhile and important! Plus it was actually funny as well as sweet, and it was exactly what I was in the mood for after the absolute heartbreaking-ness of Code Name Verity (yes, this is meant to be about Flora and Ulysses, but I will probably be randomly bringing up that book a lot). Flora & Ulysses is the sort of book that makes me think that maybe I should read a little more MG sometimes, especially if they're anything like this. But really, I think this was one MG book that seemed like it was really suited to me. Did I mention that it's about the friendship between a girl and a squirrel whose life she saves and then develops superpowers? Like flying and superstrength and understanding and writing poetry? I'm not a huge poetry fan, but squirrel poetry is adorable.
This is only a short review because I basically just keep on saying the same things, but seriously it is just so cute. If you feel like you are even mildly interested in this book, then just read it because it is so very lovely. And I know I keep on just repeating myself, but I can't think of any other adjectives more apt to describing Flora & Ulysses then sweet, adorable, lovely etc. Ugh, just read it and you'll understand.