Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and K G Campbell
|Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and K G Campbell|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Tanja Jennings|
|Summary: A quirky and enchanting tale about friendship, poetry, love and holy, unanticipated occurrences that encourages the reader to expand their imagination. Beautiful, mysterious, lyrical and gloriously random, this book deserves its 2014 Newbery Medal accolade and is not to be missed.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: May 2014|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Winner of the Newberry Medal 2014
Holy bagumba! What a gem of a book. When Kate DiCamillo decided to tell a story featuring a crazy vacuum cleaner, a natural-born cynic who loves comics and a special squirrel she probably didn't imagine the odyssey her book would take. What she has created is an affectionate tribute to the super heroes of comic books intertwined with the belief that anything is possible. It is further illuminated by the expressive, imaginative and humorous graphics of K G Campbell. There is interplay between individual full page black and white drawings and panels of sequential art as the antics of DiCamillo’s eccentric and vulnerable characters evolve. This is enhanced by the use of speech bubbles shaped like clouds and experimentation with different fonts.
The story is driven by the eponymous ten year old heroine’s belief that her squirrel Ulysses is the embodiment of her comic strip hero the Amazing Incandesto who appears when malfeasance threatens. She is further influenced by her avid reading of supplements The Criminal Element and Terrible Things Can Happen To You which she relies on for advice on how to cope with the vicissitudes of life. When she encounters a strange boy called William Spiver she wonders if is he an arch-nemesis. Will Flora’s mother take her head out of writing romance novels to notice what really matters? Will Flora’s father find happiness? Will Ulysses achieve greatness? Who is Klaus? Will malfeasance be stopped? The only way to find out is to lose yourself within the pages of this unusual and charming read and let its characters take you on a journey of infinite possibilities.
DiCamillo uses sophisticated vocabulary interspersed with K G Campbell’s evocative imagery in the form of short chapters to keep the reader hooked. Each has a catchy title which summarises its content. This is encapsulated within a poetic shell. Beneath the bizarre fun there is an undercurrent of philosophy and a sense of silent sadness which can only be assuaged by opening the human heart to the secrets of the expanding universe.
Flora and her squirrel are unique but for more ingenious blends of text and sequential art why not try Chris Wooding’s dark horror Malice about disaffected teens trapped inside a malevolent comic. If you would prefer a bizarrely illustrated quirky fantasy you might enjoy exploring the unusual world of China Mieville’s [Un-Lun-Dun. These will both appeal to slightly older children. For another squirrel experience read Axel Scheffler’s ironic tribute How to Keep a Pet Squirrel.
You can read more book reviews or buy Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and K G Campbell at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and K G Campbell at Amazon.com.
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