Friday, March 28, 2014

Flora and Ulysses

DiCamillo, Kate. 2013. FLORA AND ULYSSES: THE ILLUMINATED ADVENTURES. Ill. by K.G. Campbell. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763660406 [Suggested Grade Levels 3- 6]

Flora is a “natural born cynic.” She spends her time reading comics and studying the bonus sections entitled Terrible Things can Happen to You! and The Criminal Element Among Us. (“Flora found it wise to be prepared.”)  She reminds herself not to hope; instead observe. But in a series of “unanticipated occurrences,” a squirrel is vacuumed up by her neighbor and transformed into a typing, poetry-writing, flying superhero that brings surprises, new friends, and adventure into Flora’s life. He enables her to face issues with her parents and to finally hope again.  

Through quirky characters, humor, and exquisite word choice, Kate DiCamillo creates a delightful, heartwarming fantasy. Campbell’s gentle pencil illustrations created in the style of Flora’s beloved The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto! are the perfect complement to the endearing tale. Readers suspend belief as they fall in love with this verse-writing squirrel and the girl he adores. Once again master author DiCamillo uses small characters to tell a big story about what truly matters in life.

Use Ulysses’s free verse and his list of words to inspire readers to create their own poetry. Children can also create comic strips of Flora and Ulysses, the Amazing Incandesto, or original characters. They can create editions of Terrible Things can Happen to You! or The Criminal Element Among Us. Exclamations and dialogue are used throughout the text and comics.  Readers can identify the different types of sentences used in these exchanges and then write their own. 

Other fantasies that celebrate words and transport readers to magical worlds:
Blackwood, Sage. JINX. ISBN 9780062129901
Lloyd, Natalie. A SNICKER OF MAGIC. ISBN 9780545552707

By Jill Bellomy

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