Flora and Ulysses
by Kate DiCamillo, published 2013
“And she felt it. Her father’s heart, beating there inside of him. It felt very certain, very strong, and very large. Just like Dr. Meescham had said: Capacious….The three of them traveled the rest of the way home in a strange and peaceful silence.”
Once again, the award-winning Kate DiCamillo has captured well-deserved recognition (2014 Newbery Award) with a new children’s book that goes straight to the heart of both adult and children readers. I love her writing, and this book is filled with wonderful language and an imaginative plot. In addition, there’s a new twist: a page here and there with wonderful graphic illustrations. Fresh and alive, this is a terrific read.
As she has before, DiCamillo captures real-life difficulties, in this case, a very unamicable divorce that’s hard on Flora. The outcome is heart-warming, the method is totally far-fetched and unrealistic, and yet, that’s the beauty of this children’s book. It’s not your typical daily life difficulty and resolution. Rather, it’s an ability to escape into imagination, and somehow imagine a better outcome, whether it’s possible or not.
The other strength of DiCamillo’s writing is that it is non-stop action. Every chapter makes you want to keep reading. This is a great children’s book to inspire reading for reluctant readers. It is also very gender impartial, as the strong girl character is complimented by an intriguing young boy.
I would recommend this for children 9 and up particularly because of the issue of the unhappy divorce situation. However, other than that, everything in the book is magical and easy to digest. Hats off to Kate DiCamillo, for her continued contribution to contemporary quality children’s literature.