Reviews for Flora & Ulysses : The Illuminated Adventures

Booklist Reviews 2013 June #1
*Starred Review* The story begins with a vacuum cleaner. And a squirrel. Or, to be more precise, a squirrel who gets sucked into a Ulysses Super Suction wielded by Flora's neighbor, Mrs. Tickham. The rather hairless squirrel that is spit out is not the same one that went in. That squirrel had only one thought: "I'm hungry." After Flora performs CPR, the rescued squirrel, newly named Ulysses, is still hungry, but now he has many thoughts in his head. Foremost is his consideration of Flora's suggestion that perhaps he is a superhero like The Amazing Incandesto, whose comic-book adventures Flora read with her father. (Drawing on comic-strip elements, Campbell's illustrations here work wonderfully well.) Since Flora's father and mother have split up, Flora has become a confirmed and defiant cynic. Yet it is hard to remain a cynic while one's heart is opening to a squirrel who can type ("Squirtl. I am . . . born anew"), who can fly, and who adores Flora. Newbery winner DiCamillo is a master storyteller, and not just because she creates characters who dance off the pages and plots, whether epic or small, that never fail to engage and delight readers. Her biggest strength is exposing the truths that open and heal the human heart. She believes in possibilities and forgiveness and teaches her audience that the salt of life can be cut with the right measure of love. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: DiCamillo has a devoted following, plus this book has an extensive marketing campaign. That equals demand. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2013 October
A furry superhero takes wing

Writing is best accomplished by paying attention, says Kate DiCamillo, author of such gems as Because of Winn-Dixie. Her new book, Flora & Ulysses, features 10-year-old Flora Belle Buckman, a self-proclaimed cynic who goes by the mantra, “Do not hope; instead, observe.”

Flora’s parents have divorced, and her chain-smoking mother is too busy writing romance novels to have time for her daughter. Her mother has also decided that Flora spends too much time reading comic books, which she considers lowly. Flora doesn’t care, because her favorite book in the world is The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto, a comic she and her father have always enjoyed together.

Flora is not feeling particularly hopeful, however, until one day, she observes several incredible things. Outside her window, a neighbor is running around the yard with an out-of-control vacuum, and she vacuums up a squirrel. After Flora races outside and administers CPR, the squirrel springs to life with odd new superpowers—it can fly and even write poetry. Flora names him Ulysses, after the vacuum that nearly mowed him down (a Ulysses 2000X).

Lots of things happen quickly in this fast-paced, funny tale. Flora makes a new friend, an 11-year-old brainiac named William Spivey, who joins her in protecting Ulysses. And protect him they must, because Flora’s mother wants the little squirrel dead and buried.

Flora’s guidebooks in the ensuing adventures are her beloved comics, especially one called Terrible Things Can Happen to You! Many of the illustrations in this comical romp are action-packed comic-book sequences superbly drawn by K.G. Campbell.

<[Thu Aug 28 19:22:53 2014] Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\ line 249. p>Like all of DiCamillo’s books, Flora & Ulysses is filled with adventure, but also plenty of humor and soul. By the end, even cynical Flora has softened up. DiCamillo has seamlessly blended comic-book elements and a zany cast of characters into a thoroughly original, heartwarming tale.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
Ten-year-old Flora Belle Buckman's life changes when she befriends a squirrel with superpowers. There's only one problem: Flora's self-absorbed, romance novel writing, squirrel-hating mother. DiCamillo imbues her novel with warmth, humor, and emotion, focusing on large life issues such as loss and abandonment, acceptance of differences, and the complexity of relationships. Full-page and spot pencil illustrations accentuate the mood.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #5
Ten-year-old Flora Belle Buckman's life changes when she resuscitates a squirrel after his near-death experience with her neighbor's Ulysses 2000X vacuum. Flora discovers that the incident has caused the squirrel, whom she also names Ulysses, to acquire superpowers. Despite being a "natural-born cynic," Flora's lively imagination and love of comics such as The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto! help her believe that Ulysses is bound for superhero greatness. There's only one problem: Ulysses's archnemesis, Flora's self-absorbed, romance novel-writing, squirrel-hating mother. Beneath the basic superhero-squirrel-friend plot, DiCamillo imbues this novel with emotion by focusing on larger life issues such as loss and abandonment, acceptance of difference, loneliness, love, overcoming fears, and the complexity of relationships. She also adds plenty of warmth and humor throughout: Flora enjoys using catch phrases and big words ("holy bagumba!"; malfeasance; capacious); Ulysses loves to eat. . .just about anything; and there is a quirky supporting cast, including Flora's absent-minded father, her eleven-year-old neighbor William Spiver, and his great-aunt, Tootie Tickham. Campbell's full-page and spot pencil illustrations accentuate the mood, while interspersed comic-book pages "illuminate" Ulysses's superhero adventures and serve as a nice visual complement to Flora's love of comics. This little girl and squirrel and their heartwarming tale could melt even the most hardened archnemesis's heart. cynthia k. ritter Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 July #1
When a cynical comic-book fanatic discovers her own superhero, life becomes wonderfully supercharged. Despite the contract her mother made her sign to "turn her face away from the idiotic high jinks of comics," 10-year-old Flora avidly follows her favorite superhero's adventures. Flora's mother writes romance novels and seems more in love with her books than with her lonely ex-husband or equally lonely daughter. When a neighbor accidentally vacuums a squirrel into a Ulysses 2000X vacuum cleaner, Flora resuscitates him into a "changed squirrel," able to lift the 2000X with a single paw. Immediately assuming he's a superhero, Flora names the squirrel "Ulysses" and believes together they will "[shed] light into the darkest corners of the universe." Able to understand Flora, type, compose poetry and fly, the transformed Ulysses indeed exhibits superpowers, but he confronts his "arch-nemesis" when Flora's mother tries to terminate him, triggering a chain of events where Ulysses becomes a real superhero. The very witty text and droll, comic-book–style black-and-white illustrations perfectly relay the all-too-hilarious adventures of Flora, Ulysses and a cast of eccentric characters who learn to believe in the impossible and have "capacious" hearts. Original, touching and oh-so-funny tale starring an endearingly implausible superhero and a not-so-cynical girl. (Fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2014 March/April
Flora Buckman loves reading comic books starring the famous superhero "The Amazing Incandesto," but her writer mother prefers for her to read more traditional novels. When Flora saves a squirrel that had been sucked up by a vacuum, she realizes that he has superhero powers. When Flora brings Ulysses home, her mother is not pleased and makes sure that Ulysses never comes back. With the help of her father and friends, Flora is determined to save Ulysses from the fate her mother wishes upon him. Readers will be able to identify with Flora, especially when it comes to her divorced parents and her connection with Ulysses. Most of the characters are well-developed, but there are some that readers may not be able to connect with. The artwork adds to descriptions of the characters and events. Masterfully mixed with adventure, mystery, and laughs, this title could be used as an entertaining class read-aloud. Elyse DeQuoy, School Librarian, D.G. Cooley Elementary School, Berryville, Virginia. ecommended Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #4

Newbery Medalist DiCamillo and illustrator Campbell meld prose with comics sequences in a broad comedy tinged with sadness. Bitter about her parents' divorce, Flora Buckman has withdrawn into her favorite comic book, The Amazing Incandesto! and memorized the advisories in its ongoing bonus feature, Terrible Things Can Happen to You! She puts those life-saving tips into action when a squirrel is swallowed whole by a neighbor's new vacuum cleaner, the Ulysses Super-Suction Multi-Terrain 2000X. Flora resuscitates the squirrel, christens him after the vacuum, and witnesses a superhero-like transformation: Ulysses is now über-strong, can fly, and composes poetry. Despite supremely quirky characters and dialogue worthy of an SAT prep class, there's real emotion at the heart of this story involving two kids who have been failed by the most important people in their lives: their parents. It's into this profound vacuum that Ulysses really flies, demonstrating an unconditional love for his rescuer, trumped only perhaps by his love for food and a desire "to make the letters on the keyboard speak the truth of his heart." Ages 10-up. Author's agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 August

Gr 4-6--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. Like DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant (Candlewick, 2009), this touching piece of magical realism unfolds with increasing urgency over a mere few days and brings its somewhat caricatured, old-fashioned characters together into what becomes a supportive community for all. Campbell's rounded and gentle soft-penciled illustrations, at times in the form of panel art furthering the action, wonderfully match and add to the sweetness of this oddball story. Rife with marvelously rich vocabulary reminiscent of the early superhero era (e.g., "Holy unanticipated occurrences!") and amusing glimpses at the world from the point of view of Ulysses the supersquirrel, this book will appeal to a broad audience of sophisticated readers. There are plenty of action sequences, but the novel primarily dwells in the realm of sensitive, hopeful, and quietly philosophical literature.--Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

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