By Kelly Carey
Never before has vacuuming led to the adventure that Kate DiCamillo creates in Flora & Ulysses. She uses hilarious antics and crazy props, like a lamp shaped like a shepherdess, and a flying superhero typing squirrel named Ulysses to deliver Flora from a lonely life where she feels ignored and misunderstood.
Flora’s parents are divorced, and she lives with her romance novel writing mother. Flora’s mother is kooky and totally obsessed with writing her novels. Like so many kids, Flora cannot forge a connection with her mother. Her father used to read her the comic book adventures of the Amazing Incandesto, but he doesn’t live at home anymore and Flora is struggling to make sense of how their new relationship works. DiCamillo now adds a superhero squirrel, a quirky boy with trauma induced blindness , mayhem at a Donut Diner and a bag and shovel!
As Flora likens Ulysses to the comic book hero Incandesto, her mother becomes Ulysses’ arch-nemesis and the tension builds so high the reader will scream “Holy bagumba!”, a favorite Flora phrase.
As sweet as it is funny, readers will be both charmed and moved by Flora & Ulysses.
DiCamillo finds a way to make the absurd and ridiculous blend seamlessly into a story of vanquishing loneliness and finding friendship. She mixes the unreal with the real and creates a page turner that is both silly and serious. Despite the many adults populating the story, DiCamillo keeps her child protagonist in charge and her reader fully engaged.
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