Review: Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamilloFlora and Ulysses
Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick Press

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When Flora saves a squirrel from a powerful vacuum cleaner, she discovers that he has super powers. She names him Ulysses and brings him home to teach him what it means to be a hero, and she watches and waits for his true superpowers to emerge. Ulysses’ powers do emerge: a deep love for Flora and the gift of poetry. Her desire to protect him and his power to communicate changes Flora’s life in unexpected ways.

My family and I listened to this as an audiobook on our vacation. I loved the comics that Flora reads and how they were a bond between her and her dad. Ulysses totally had me from the moment he walked onto the page. The tone of the story is playful and fun, but it delves pretty deep into some emotional territory. Flora’s parents have separated, and that really unsettles her. She doubts her mom’s love for her, resenting the household lamp shaped like a shepherdess that her mother keeps in a prized spot in the house. During the separation, Flora’s relationship with her father becomes strained. Having Ulysses in her life is this huge, positive thing, and soon he begins to affect everyone around her.

Throughout the story, we laughed, we teared up. We shouted, “Holy Bagumba!” right there along with Flora and her dad. It was a great read, and a lot of fun.

find-amazonCultural Elements
Smalltown America. I don’t recall racial descriptions of characters.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
A few expressions like, “what the heck,” “holy unanticipated occurences,” and “for the love of Pete” pepper the story. Nothing heavier than that.

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
A woman briefly discusses Pascal’s Wager with Flora and what it means. (That believing in God on faith means one has less to lose than not believing. She also mentions that her husband, who has died, is “singing with the angels.”

Flora quotes from a comic that says, “Do not hope. Only observe.” She wrestles to follow this advice but realizes that she can’t help hoping, and that hope is what carries her through some hard moments.

Violent Content
Flora’s mom wants her dad to take Ulysses out and bash him on the head with a shovel to kill him.

At one point, a man with a chef’s knife starts toward Ulysses. With her father’s implied permission, Flora trips the man.

Drug Content
Flora’s mom smokes cigarettes.



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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

  1. Colleen says:

    Oh man, this sounds adorable. I am such a fan of an author’s imagination. Never ceases to amaze me. Storytelling rocks! Thank you for sharing.