My kids and I are on a real Kate DiCamillo kick right now! One of my favorite parts of being a parent is all of the excellent kids books I get to read with them. It is one of the best parts of my day.
DiCamillo, writer of Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and about 70 other “children” books, is one of the best children’s authors of our time. She always produces some inspiring stories that grow a child’s imagination and expand their thoughts about what could be.
We listened to “Flora & Ulysses” as an audiobook, but what I see is that the print and digital versions appear to be a part-graphic novel, part-traditional novel, which would have been fun to read as well. Maybe I will try and find a copy of the physical book at my local library. As a standalone story, this was a very engaging tale about a squirrel-turned-superhero after being sucked up into a suped-up, deluxe, state-of-the-art vacuum by Tootie, Flora’s next door neighbor.
Ulysses the squirrel has super-squirrel strength, the ability to talk with Flora, and even types up his own poetry! That last part particularly caught my eye. My kids were entranced by the story, as was I, and we couldn’t wait to listen to it throughout the weekend.
As an audiobook, it was over four hours, which the kids and I breezed through in about three days.
I loved the character development of Flora and her divorced parents, and some of the unique challenges kids in that situation face. Issues like a fear of abandonment, lack of stability and predictability, and rebellion are all addressed in the well-written, and exciting story about a young girl and her super squirrel.
“Flora & Ulysses” was the winner of the Newbery Medal in 2014 as the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.