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Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  47,191 ratings  ·  6,189 reviews
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 (th ...more
Hardcover, 231 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Candlewick Press
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Ahmie My eldest read it with no problem in 4th grade and he's got a few learning disability issues. He loved it so much he's reread it about 5 times. My 2nd…moreMy eldest read it with no problem in 4th grade and he's got a few learning disability issues. He loved it so much he's reread it about 5 times. My 2nd turned 8 in June, is entering 3rd grade, identified as gifted, and reading this book now. There ARE some difficult words in this, so expect to need to define things occasionally - for instance, the word "malfeasance" shows up in the first few chapters.(less)

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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Lynn Plourde
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ten Reasons Why I LOVE
the 2014 Newbery Medal winner Flora & Ulysses
by Kate DiCamillo

# 10. This book cracked me up.
# 9. The hybrid combo of traditional chapter book and graphic novel segments works seamlessly and pulls
young readers into the story.
#8. More packed-in WORD POWER—malfeasance, capacious, obfuscation for starters—than any other kids’
book I know. (Heck, I have several degrees, I’m an author, and I didn’t know some of the words.)
#7. A kids’ book that can boost SAT scores.
I like a bit of subtlety with my “meaning”. What I mean by that is that when I pick up a book for kids, it’s tough on me, as a reader, to go through something saturated and imbued with the weight and splendor of meaning on every page. It bogs me down. And, to be frank, this is what makes it so hard for kids to read some of those old classics like Paula Fox’s The Slave Dancer or Johnny Tremain. Meaning, for me, should be a slight subtle thing that is all the more powerful when it comes seemingly ...more
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
I guess I have to explain myself after everyone I know has raved about this book. Initially I was loving it, but the ending didn't work for me. And after I finished it, I realized that while it was cute and quirky, it tried a bit too hard to be cute and quirky. Whatever it was that bothered me, it didn't get resolved and so I'm thinking this one is just OK. ...more
Leigh Collazo

More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.

WHAT I LIKED: I am a huge Kate DiCamillo fan, so I was really excited to see that she has a new book coming out this month. As an extra bonus, Flora & Ulysses is told partially via short, full-page cartoon strips, which will make it especially popular with 8-11 year old readers.

DiCamillo's skillful use of vocabulary will help expose readers to words they likely have never seen. The squirrel is super-cute and the drawings made me smile. I loved his thought captio
Michael Finocchiaro
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an incredibly delightful book! I read it out loud to my 10 year old daughter (so nice to read to her again!) and we both were huge fans of Flora, Tootie, William Spiver, Mrs. Meecham, George Beckham and of course Ulysses! There is an absolutely enchanting sense of magic and wonder as Flora breaks out of her cynical mindset and learns how to love again. The transformation of Ulysses from squirrel to incognito Incandesto (holy bagumba!) is so beautifully done. There is also a surprising amou ...more
Not a fan of Kate DiCamillo (I know, I know, blasphemy!) I only picked this up because it's a National Book Award longlist. I read it in a day and I must (begrudgingly) admit that I didn't hate it. Not much happens, but in a middle grade novel, that's not a bad thing. There are quirky characters, funny pictures, and enough graphic novel/comic panels to help librarians convince reluctant readers that it's worth the effort.

What bothered me most (and I swear this is legit, not just me rolling my ey
Kate DiCamillo's contributions to the literary canon have been many things, but they have never been silly.


The Tiger Rising: subtle & thoughtful
Because of Winn-Dixie: tender & sweet
The Tale of Despereaux: warm & inviting
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane: heart-wrenching & deeply moving
The Magician's Elephant: somber & bleakly hopeful

But silly?


Until now.

Until Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.

The premise itself is head-scratchingly silly (especially coming from DiCamillo
Sheer delight! I couldn't put this book down, it was both tender and humorous, and reminded me more of BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE or THE TIGER RISING than DiCamillo's last few books. Then I passed it on to my son, and he had the same reaction: reading all day until he finished!

Read aloud 2021: Read this aloud to all three kids before we see the Disney+ movie this month! We all loved it. I had forgotten a lot of the delightful details, like how much Ulysses loves Flora's "round head." Just a lovely st
The Library Lady
Dear Ms DiCamillo,

I loved Because of Winn Dixie. I adored it.
But I've hated everything you've written since.

And it's not because I don't love fantasy and whimsy, because I do.

But your whimsical prose inevitably makes me want to throw your book out the window. And this one is no exception.

However, I will not throw it out the window. Instead, because it is a best seller I will carefully put it on my new book shelf and leave it for someone who takes the best seller lists seriously to read, or give
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was ok

Good reads win (thanks again love) / 

The plot was jagged and torn by too many subplot and divisions. It had no clear indication of an initial or final destination which was one of its largest failings. Within it we have the magically superhero squirrel. Flora looking for independence, security, and love. But flora lives vicariously through the animal's accomplishments using them as some sort of extension for herself, almost as if she can get the life, hope, self love etc that was absent before sh
Oct 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013
I cannot imagine giving this book to any of my students. I found it weird and pointless. I also hate Dicamillo's use of repetitive language that is meant to be lyrical and touching. It just felt monotonous. ...more
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Read for Children's Literature Network Book Club.

I often wonder what is inside Kate DiCamillo's head and heart...Where does it all come from? "Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventure" is another story of longing, loneliness, and love from DiCamillo. It tears at the heartstrings long after the reader has finished the book. Again, it is a story of the ages for the ages. With its beautiful imagery, multi-layered characters, messages for all ages, and spot-on illustrations, it is destined to be
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: j-fiction, 2013
I loved this, and thought it was perfect.

All those goodreads haters on this book picking apart Flora's vocabulary need to see that Flora is trying like hell to guard her heart, and this little squirrel comes along and opens her heart.

This is a wonderous book where unbelievable things happen, and I think it's fine to believe that Flora can shout MALFEASANCE!!

Isn't it great to think that if you wanted to, you could shout, MALFEASANCE!

Since when would someone say, "That word is much too large fo
Krista Regester
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I love Kate DiCamillo's writing, but something about this book just hit a nerve with me. I found almost every character more annoying than the last.. especially the squirrel. If you listen to the audio book you get a little more than you asked for with the the overindulging use of brass instruments. I think that there was more time spent reading the chapter names aloud than the actual chapters themselves.

Also: If I heard the term "for Pete's sake!!!!!" one. more. time. I was going to blow a gas
Reread: November 2017
My daughter, who previously didn't want to read this book, confiscated my copy and finished it in one day. Now, we both have a soft spot for William Spiver and the poetic Ulysses. I have also decided that our next dog should be named Flora Belle. "What a lovely, melodious name."

Original Review: October 2017
I went into this middle grade book, thinking I wouldn't like it. I had gotten it out of the library hoping that either my 9 or 11 year old kids would be interested in rea
Mari Anne
Sep 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mg-ya
I started out loving "Flora...". It was typical DiCamillo charm; quirky characters and an endearing plot. However, somewhere along the way the story turned and it started to become a bit maudlin and dark. The ending was sweet, but felt a bit forced. The other thing that caused me to knock a star off the review, was that DiCamillo had a main character smoking (complete with illustration). It always bothers me to see characters in children's books aimed at the elementary set either smoking or drin ...more
Apr 27, 2022 rated it liked it
"Cynics are people who are afraid to believe." She waved her hand in front of her face as if she were brushing away a fly.
"Do you believe in, um, things?" said Flora.
"Yes, yes, I believe," said Dr. Meescham. She smiled her too-bright smile again. "You have heard of Pascal's Wager?"
"No," said Flora.
"Pascal," said Dr. Meescham, "had it that since it could not be proven whether God existed, one might as well believe that he did, because there was everything to gain by believing and nothing to lose.
Jul 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
If it weren't for the fancy vocabulary words - sepulchral, capacious, euphemistic - and the fact that it features a poetry-writing squirrel, I can't believe this book would have had a chance at winning the Newbery. As it is, I can't agree with this choice. Not much of a story, and if certain characters refrained from repeating themselves or insisting on being called by both a first and a last name every time they are mentioned or spoken to, this book would be many pages briefer. The subtitle mig ...more
Henry Martin
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
Another great read by my favorite children's author.

This story marks a certain shift in DiCamillo's work for me, perhaps influenced by her work on the Mercy Watson series, where DiCamillo aims for the humorous side of life.
Compared to her other titles, Flora and Ulysses is a lighter read. In a way, it lacks the depth and drama of Edward Tulane or Desperaux or Tiger Rising. It is a more entertaining read; more playful, and slightly ridiculous in its subject matter. Considering the target audien
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-grade
Frankly, I was disappointed by this book. It had its moments. It was cute. But that was all ruined for me by the fact that Flora has absolutely no respect for either of her parents. And her parents are made out as bumbling idiots. Oh, and her mother ends up the villain of the story.

I realize this is a middle-grade novel, and DiCamillo is probably trying to play to her audience. She probably thinks this is the time when kids lose respect for their parents and stop seeing them as perfect. I would
This is a well written book with so much going on. It has interesting characters and fun situations. I don't know what it is about it but this story just didn't strike the right chord with me. Who knows. It was ok, I just didn't love it and I feel like I should have. The character I enjoyed the most was the doctor with the horsehair couch. I think younger people will enjoy it, there is a lot of action and a flying squirrel is fun. The whole thing didn't work for me. I think this is a me issue an ...more
Chance Lee
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: j-fic, favorites
"You are not a donut waiting to be dunked."

Flora & Ulysses is a book about new beginnings. After a painful incident, it can take time to rebuild yourself, and sometimes it happens by accident. Like, your parents divorce, and you harden your heart to protect yourself. Or, you're sucked up by a vacuum cleaner, have a near-death experience, and are reborn with super strength, the ability to fly, and a love for poetry. The former is Flora's story, the later is Ulysses. Ulysses is a squirrel.

Kate Di
Alissa J. Zavalianos
3.5/5 ⭐️

This story was cute if not a bit strange. There were so many random things throughout, and yet, all those random pieces ended up working together in the end. Every character in this story was quirky; I think the most normal one was actually the squirrel 😂

All in all, I think I really would have enjoyed this as a child, and I’m glad I had the chance to read it now!
Karen MacMeekin
Jan 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: cb, 2014
Yikes! Can't believe this won the Newbery (today)! Picked it up yesterday and could barely finish it. Really a disappointment... ...more
Flora J
Sep 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
A disgrace to my name
Jan 31, 2022 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book. It was picked as a school wide read along with my kids. The way it was written was very confusing and we all had a hard time staying engaged in the story.
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Last spring, Jack Gantos and I were hangin’ out, shootin’ the breeze*, and talking about which new kids’ books we liked. He said that he really liked Mr. and Mrs. Bunny –Detectives Extraordinaire, partly because Horvath’s animals are smart. He remarked that just because your characters are animals doesn’t mean that they have to be dull-witted. I think he actually used a funnier word than that, but it’s been too long and I don’t remember what it was. If you see him around, ask him about stupid an ...more
La Coccinelle
This is the third book by Kate DiCamillo I've read (or listened to), and it's the third one I've enjoyed. Now I really want to go out and find all of her other books so I can gobble them up!

Please, dear author, I want some more...

This is such a whimsical story. Of course you have to suspend disbelief a little bit, since it's a book about a squirrel that can fly and use a typewriter to write poetry. But there is a strong superhero/comic-book flavour to the whole thing, which sort of automatic
May 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-grades
Eleven-year-old Flora Belle Buckman, self-professed cynic and comic book devotee knows a superhero when she sees one. When the neighbor's new vacuum sucks up a squirrel in the backyard, Flora jumps to the rescue to rescessuitate the squirrel. The squirrel, whom she names Ulysses, is now endowed with superpowers, just like the hero of her favorite comic, "Terrible Things Can Happen to You!". Together they must find a way to vanquish the villains (Flora's mom and others) to live to fight another d ...more
Flora Belle Buckman, a determined comic-book reader and fan who escapes the realities of separated parents and an emotionally distant mother by masquerading as a cynic, is a big believer in super-heroes. When she sees a squirrel being vacuumed up by an industrial vacuum cleaner, and witnesses his subsequent super-strength and unusual abilities - he can understand her, and communicates through typing! - she decides that Ulysses, named for the vacuum cleaner that transformed him, must be a super-h ...more
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EDUTL 7343: 11/9: Newbery Medal 3 7 Nov 09, 2022 11:11AM  
EDUTL 2368 AU22: Flora and Ulysses 2 5 Sep 28, 2022 08:47AM  
EDUTL 2368 AU22: Flora and Ulysses 2 6 Sep 28, 2022 08:47AM  
EDUTL 2368 AU22: Flora and Ulysses 2 5 Sep 22, 2022 06:12AM  

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Kate DiCamillo, the newly named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2014–2015, says about stories, “When we read together, we connect. Together, we see the world. Together, we see one another.” Born in Philadelphia, the author lives in Minneapolis, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week.

Kate DiCamillo's own journey is something of a dream come true. After

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