Review: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo


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.


This book was one on my wish list from Christmas and part of a massive pile of book goodies I received.  I was a massive fan of Kate DiCamillo’s previous book, The Tale of Despereaux, and I was really keen to see what else Kate had on offer.  I was lucky that this book was recently published and I could jump straight into another magical story.

This book is an interesting blend of art and story with a mix of comic-strip-esque illustrations and a story that reads like a superhero tale in suburbia.  I couldn’t help but fall in love with Ulysses the Squirrel with his big glowing heart as well as Flora with her cynical outlook on the world that was begging for some real colour in it.  The ensemble cast is just as loopy and wonderfully nonsensical as the idea of a superhero squirrel and his human best friend.  

This story is another tender story about love and family; much like Despereaux, but this story has a different vibe to it.  With a more contemporary setting and a sprinkling of quirky characters, Flora and Ulysses was fun and joyous read that I’d happily pass on to any as a treasured gift.  The characters all had their own hook that made you want to know more about their interesting lives and the story was simple, and yet exciting.  If it taught me anything, it’s to very under appreciate the world around you and the people in it.  Oh; also squirrels are smarter than they look.

Published by Walker Books and is available online and in bookshops now

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