One of the happiest days of my reading life was the day I discovered Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. I was thrilled that a children’s author could have crafted such a rich, wonderful story that would appeal to kids and adults alike, offering levels upon levels of meaning. The Tiger Rising, her next book, was also a winner, and spoke to the same issues. Her next several books seemed aimed at a younger audience. When Flora & Ulysses took first place in the prestigious Newberry Awards, I figured it was time to reconnect with Kate DiCamillo’s work. Sadly, I just don’t get it–the story of a young girl, obsessed with a comic book about a superhero .is a great idea. Her befriending a squirrel who had accidentally gotten gotten sucked into a vacuum cleaner was an interesting twist. But the cast of human characters who follow are just, well, odd. Very odd.
I’ve no doubt that there will be some students who will get Flora & Ulysses, and others who will love it. They’ll enjoy the quirky way that Flora thinks, the strange neighbor Edward Spiver, the (ironically) unlovable romance writer-mother, and Flora’s befuddled dad who introduces himself to everyone, over and over. And oh yes, Ulysses the squirrel who flies, types and writes poetry.There will also be those who get a kick out of the comic book-style pages that pop up throughout the story. Still, I think there might be a few who wonder…
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