In The Media
October 16, 2013
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. Read more...
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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.
- ISBN-13: 9780763660406
- ISBN-10: 076366040X
- Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA)
- Publish Date: September 2013
- Page Count: 240
- Reading Level: Ages 8-12
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-06-24
- Reviewer: Staff
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 Bitter about her parents’ divorce, Flora Buckman has withdrawn into her favorite comic book, The Amazing Incandesto!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.)
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.
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.