11 April 2014

Flora and Ulysses: 2014 Newbery Award

The beginning of March 2014 I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book. A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all.  Want to keep track of which books I read?  Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!

Cover of the book - Used for illustration purposes only under the fair use clause
Flora Belle Buckman: The Cynic

"I promise to always turn back toward you."

Comic-book loving Flora Buckman, the only way to cope with her distant mother and her depressed father is to be cynical.  When a squirrel is sucked up into a neighbor's runaway vacuum, Flora comes to his rescue and brings the squirrel back to life. She is then amazed to find that the incident has left the squirrel with super hero powers of flight and super-strength, just like in her beloved comic books.  She names him Ulysses and takes him with her.  With the help of Ulysses, the weird boy next door named William Spiver, and a series of zany events, Flora learns to hope and love again and teaches those around her to do the same.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures was an interesting read for me.  The story is fantastic in nature, being a story about a super-hero squirrel.  The zaniness of the story kept me enthralled until the end of the book.  Having already read Kate DiCamillo's first Newbery Award book The Tale of Despereaux and her book Because of Winn-Dixie, I was used to her writing style, which flows freely and reads easily.

The theme of this book is love, family love in particular.  Flora has tried to stop loving those around her because it appears those around her have stopped loving her with all of their heart.  Yet when she saves Ulysses, a little of the cynical wall that she has built up around her heart starts to melt.  Throughout the adventures the tow have, they touch the lives around them, from Flora's parents, to William Spiver and his great-aunt, to the neighbor of her father's.  The story twists and turns and even has an arch-nemesis. Overall, it is a fun read with an ending that seems to mean good things to come for our superhero and his sidekick.

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