Reader Reviewed Flora & Ulysses The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

Flora & Ulysses The Illuminated Adventures

Written by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by K.Gordon Campbell

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

One of our Books of the Year 2014 - Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Book Award 2014- Winner of the IBW Children's Award 2014 Award-winning Kate diCamillo tells a zany, bitter sweet story of how Flora Belle Buckman, a self-declared cynic, rescues a squirrel from the neighbour’s super-powered vacuum cleaner and, in doing so, finds herself on a journey of discovery. Ulysses the squirrel’s escapade seems to invest it with super powers – including the ability to type - while the appearance of William Spiver, the neighbour’s great great-nephew who has a passion for words, gives Flora a friend. Flora’s journey of self discovery is highly entertaining.

Guardian Children's Fiction Book Award Judge Frank Cottrell Boyce said: “Squirrel acquires superpowers after collision with lawn mower - you KNOW you want to know more.”

Describing the process of writing the book, Kate DiCamillo says, “There is a line from the thirteenthcentury poet Rumi that I kept close by as I worked on this novel: The grief armies assemble, but I’m not going with them. For me, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures is a book about joy and laughter, about moving away from grief and turning toward love. Additionally, it is a book about seal blubber.”

reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Flora & Ulysses The Illuminated Adventures a small number of children were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster....'This was a truly heartwarming, witty story. And it was the best book I have ever read! I loved everything about it and am looking forward to reading another book by this fantastic author.'

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Flora & Ulysses The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by a master storyteller. It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw it coming - the vacuum cleaner, that is. As for self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, she has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You! so she is 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 Flora will be changed too as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.

Download an interview with Kate DiCamillo about the writing of the book and what inspired her - here!


We have asked a select number of members and browsers to review Flora & Ulysses The Illuminated Adventures. You can read their reviews below.

Jemima Wilcox, age 9 - 'Flora loves comic books but her mum loves romances. She changes her life the day she gave mouth to mouth to a squirrel! They have many funny adventures together :)' Click Here to read the full review.

Benjy Randall, age 9 - 'Brilliant, funny book with amazing pictures; would highly recommend it.' Click Here to read the full review.

Rohan Delamere, age 8 - 'This book is not like any other! What book has a superhero squirrel, a mum who is his arch-nemesis and a boy next door who is scared to take of his glasses?' Click Here to read the full review.

Olivia Coates, age 9 - 'Funny, easy to read. Sure to have your children absorbed.' Click Here to read the full review.

Jenny Bridgeman, age 8 - 'I love the illustrations. It’s really funny and different. It’s my favourite book I read so far. It is absolutely fantastic. I’m enjoying this book and I’m glad I've got this book.' Click Here to read the full review.

Sam Harper, age 9 - 'I absolutely loved everything about this quirky, funny and exciting tale. The brilliant cartoons make it great fun to read and totally unique. This is such a special book, you must read it!' Click Here to read the full review.

Evie Scott-Sentance, age 10 - 'I really enjoyed reading the story and I hope that there will be more adventures for Flora and Ulysses in the future. I really recommend it!' Click Here to read the full review.

Rebekah Choi, age 11 - 'A tale with twists of suspense as Flora discovers the power of a hoovered up squirrel, Ulysses. Flora and Ulysses go on an adventure to protect Ulysses from the suspected arch enemy William Spiver.' Click Here to read the full review.

Katie Johnson, age 9 - 'This was a truly heartwarming, witty story. And it was the best book I have ever read! I loved everything about it and am looking forward to reading another book by this fantastic author.' Click Here to read the full review.

Elspeth Paterson, age 9 - 'I would really recommend ‘Flora and Ulysses’ to all children who enjoy a good laugh. It isn’t scary or difficult to understand so could be enjoyed with an adult, if you are younger than eight.' Click Here to read the full review.

Jemma Rubens, age 10 - 'I just couldn’t stop laughing throughout the entire book...I would recommend this amazing book to children who like funny stories, or readers who like animals, especially squirrels.' Click Here to read the full review.

About the Author

Kate DiCamillo

As a child

Kate was often ill as a child. She says, “You name it, I got it. Pneumonia, impetigo, pink eye, scarlet fever, mumps, measles, chicken pox. And because I got it, I missed a lot of school and spent a lot of time at home by myself. I am grateful for all that illness. Because I was alone for so much of the day, I learnt to entertain myself. I lived in my imagination. And I lived in books. For a writer, it was an excellent beginning.”

As an adult

Kate studied English at the University of Florida, and then worked on a whole series of very different jobs. She says, “I worked at Walt Disney World (telling people to watch their step), I sold tickets at Circus World (I did not have to dress like a clown), I called bingo at a campground, and grew plants in a greenhouse. I cleaned bathrooms (I wasn’t very good at it) and sold advertising (I was even worse at that).” But all the while Kate she knew that what she really wanted to do was write.

As an artist

When Kate was almost thirty years old, she had what she calls “a small epiphany: if I wanted to tell stories, I was going to have to do the hard work of sitting down and writing them. I started to write. For six years I wrote and wrote and wrote. And most of what I wrote was bad. But here is the beautiful thing about doing something every day; you are bound to get better. And this is true, even for someone as dense as me.” When Kate was thirty-five years old, she sold her first short story, This is Me, Lona Bretweiser, Leaving the Amusement Park of Love. That same year, she sold her first novel, Because of Winn-Dixie. “Now,” Kate says, “I feel as if I have been extraordinarily blessed; I tell stories for a living.” Kate's The Tale of Despereaux won the prestigious Newbery Medal in 2004.

Things you didn't know about Kate DiCamillo

She doesn’t know how to cook. She refuses to learn how to cook. She loves to eat. She is an aunt to a dog named Henry. He is not a good dog. She is a neat freak. Her favourite movie is Planes, Trains and Automobiles. She wanted to be a vet when she grew up. She has never grown up. She used to dress up her poodle, Nanette, as a disco dancer. When unobserved, she likes to dress the aforementioned Henry up in strange outfits.

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Book Info


256 pages
Interest Age: From 8 to 11 years


Kate DiCamillo
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Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

1st May 2014




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