Book Review: Flora and Ulysses, the Illuminated Adventures

F & L blue

5 out of 5 stars. All ages.

I first read this book when it was released in 2013, but I wanted to reread and review it, and I’m so glad I did. Of course, I remembered the gist of the story but so many wonderful little details escape the web of memory. This is a fairly quick read with a lot of short chapters. I listened to it on audiobook in just a day. Still, it’s very touching in the way the characters develop, even in such a short amount of time.                                                        

The plot of this piece reads like a sequence of events in the lives of Flora and Ulysses, but there is a notable climax. This isn’t a “weight of the world on your shoulders” type of story. It focuses more on the inner world of Flora and Ulysses. Don’t worry about boredom though; you’ll be sucked right into the pages. Seeing the challenges, changes, and growth in the characters is delightful, and the end ties it all together very nicely.

I. Love. Kate’s. Characters. Always well-developed and complex, each person (or squirrel) is unique and gifted and flawed.
Flora: a self-proclaimed cynic who unexpectedly finds hope in an incredible squirrel. Sometimes she drove me crazy, but most of the time, I was right there in her head doing exactly what she was doing. I loved her practicality, her spunk, and the way she believed in the super-powered squirrel.
Mr. Buckman (Flora’s dad): Flora describes him as a sad, quiet man, and you do see his sadness coming through. But he is also “capacious of heart”; he loves his daughter very much, and I think in a way he still loves her mother. He is funny and awkward and caring, a great father.
William Spiver: The “temporarily blind” great nephew of Flora’s neighbor, William Spiver is supremely strange. William is by turns annoyingly factual and ridiculously sentimental. A very endearing character, nonetheless.

The writing is excellent. Kate does such an amazing job of showing the emotion that there’s absolutely no need for explaining. You just feel it. The descriptions are always just enough; you can see it clearly and it doesn’t drag on. This book, unlike any of her previous novels, features a few comic strip-style scenes, which adds a very cool element to the story.

U types comic strip


Overall, this story is short, sweet, and simple. I almost wish it were longer, just so I could extend my time in their world, but really, the length is just right. If you’d like to check out this book, here are the links to it on B&N and Amazon. So, what did you think of my first Print Quest review? Read anything by DiCamillo? What do you think of comics/graphic novels? Comment me!


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