10-year-old Flora Belle Buckman is a self-confessed cynic, an avid reader of TERRIBLE THINGS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU! and a big fan of the comic book THE ILLUMINATED ADVENTURES OF THE AMAZING INCANDESTO. She misses her dad who moved out after her parents' divorce as her romance novelist mother doesn't understand her and seems to prefer a truly hideous lamp instead. But Flora's life changes the day she saves the life of a squirrel who gets sucked up into her next-door-neighbour's souped up vacuum cleaner.
The squirrel - now named Ulysses - returns to life as a super squirrel able to lift heavy weights, fly and write poetry. Flora's determined to help Ulysses reach his full superhero potential but every superhero has a nemesis and Flora suspects the motives of William Spiver, her neighbour's nephew who claims to be blind but blatantly isn't ...
Kate DiCamillo's MG novel is a quirky, charming and original delight with strong themes of loneliness and friendship that left me very moved by the end. I honestly loved it from beginning to end and the illustrations by K. G. Campbell are an absolute delight. It's the type of book that will appeal to both reluctant and confident readers aged 8+ and I think many parents will love it too.
Flora is a delightful character. Slightly insecure, a little lost and with only her books for company I absolutely loved the friendship that develops between her and Ulysses and how she learns more about herself and her parents in the process. Ulysses is similarly adorable - constantly hungry, he's bemused by his sudden powers but his joy at being able to express himself together with his own slightly fatalistic look on life totally held my attention.
This is a book about relationships and DiCamillo packs it with eccentric characterss, which might put some people off but I genuinely loved it - especially the articulate William Spiver who's faked blindness to escape an uncomfortable truth and Dr Meescham, an elderly lady with lessons to pass on to the children. K. G. Campbell's illustrations more than do justice to all of these characters and build on the book's events.
It's a fun, charming book that's completely different to anything else out there and I'd definitely recommend checking it out.
ARC from publisher.
Hugely smart and buckets of fun - and not just for kids.
Flora loves her comic - Terrible Things that can happen to you. It has prepared her for almost every eventuality life might throw at her. And often makes her think in and see the world as a comic book. But she's not wholly prepared when next door's vacuum cleaner sucks up a squirrel and gives him superpowers. Yes that's right, read that sentence again if you need to.
Naming him Ulysses, Flora knows he has a purpose - to do good. Unfortunately her romance-writing mother would not understand, so Flora must seek advice from other sources, possibly 'William Spiver' (don't call him William), her neighbour Tootie or her comic-loving father.
It's madcap, it's fast-paced. Ulysses is a pretty well drawn (no pun intended) character with a fairly impressive sideline in poetry. Flora and William Spiver (don't call him William) are fun to follow and there's lots of humour in their situations as well as occasional pathos.
The comic side of this is hilarious, illustrations beautiful, story very engaging and style original and appealing. Give it a try - adults and their offspring.
on 14 October 2013
Holy bagumba! Stand by your vacuum cleaners folks, strange things are afoot in the Tickham backyard. Even proud cynic Flora Buckman can't ignore the potential that super-charged superhero (and former average squirrel about town) Ulysses has to change both poetry and the world at large. Flora & Ulysses is an eccentric, hilarious tale about hope, absurdity, pampered lamps, typing, superheroes and the unappreciated genius of squirrels. Accompanying Kate DiCamillo's excellent story are wonder comic strips and illustration by K.G. Campbell.
A lovely adventure for good readers of up to 10 or 11 years. Flora saves a squirrel from certain death. Her Mum doesn't care about anything except writing love stories, her Dad who doesn't live at home any more is sad and cares too much. Into Flora's life comes the poetry writing squirrel (who is secretly a superhero) and a new friend, William, who is temporarily staying with an Aunt because he misbehaved at home when his Mum remarried. Sounds grim? Not at all. It's full of joy, laughter and excitement.
on 27 July 2014
Was really looking forward to this and it didn't disappoint. Zipped through it in one night. Funny, charming, beautifully written, easy to read, heart-warming and with SUPERHERO SQUIRRELS. Plus the illustrations of the animals are hilarious and the last page made me tear up - it has one of my new favourite last lines in a book. A little gem of a kid's book.