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Thursday, May 8, 2014

A superhero squirrel, a semi-sentient vacuum cleaner, and a plucky heroine. What more could you want in a book?

DiCamillo, Kate (2013) Flora and Ulysses  Somerville, MA:  Candlewick.

It starts like this:
     Flora Belle Buckman was in her room at her desk.  She was doing two things at once.  She was ignoring her mother and she was also reading a comic book entitles The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto.
     "Flora." her mother shouted, "what are you doing up there?"
     "I'm reading!" Flora shouted back.
     :Remember the contract!" her mother shouted.  "Do not forget the contract!"
     At the beginning of summer, in a moment of weakness, Flora had made the mistake of signing a contract that said she would "work to turn her face away from the idiotic high jinks of comics and toward the bright light of true literature."
     These were the exact words of the contract.  They were her mother's words. 
     Flora's mother was a writer.  She was divorced and she wrote romance novels.
     Talk about idiotic high jinks.
     Flora hated romance novels.
     In fact, she hated romance.
     "I hate romance," said Flora out loud to herself. 
     So Flora, the comic-book-loving girl cynic saves the life of a squirrel that had been sucked into her neighbor's vacuum cleaner and emerged with super powers.  Soon Flora is off on an adventure in which she discovers that her dad has a capacious heart, that young William Spiver is perhaps not as evil as she thought (and he is certainly not blind) and that even cynics can feel the love of a community (a rather quirky community to be sure, but just so) and can learn that it is okay be believe.
     I think a good fourth grade reader would catch most of the humor in this, (my fourth grade daughter did) but if you want to read this to your third graders (with explanantions of some parts), I am not going to stop you.  Older than fourth grade?  Sure.  I am 47 years old.  I loved it,

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