Looking for some great books for your children? Our children’s librarians are excited to share their expert reviews with you.
First in our series of monthly children's book reviews, Jamie Bowers from the Paschalville Branch in Southwest Philly brings us the story of a girl and a squirrel by Philadelphia's own Kate DiCamillo, who was recently named the national ambassador for young people's literature. Sound interesting? Just click on the book title to see if your Free Library of Philadelphia location has a copy.
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K. G. Campbell
Although she “set out to tell the story of a vacuum cleaner and a squirrel,” author Kate DiCamillo says that instead she “ended up writing a book about superheroes, cynics, poetry, love, giant donuts, little shepherdess lamps, and how we are all working to find our way home.” At its essence her new book, Flora & Ulysses, is the story of a girl and a squirrel. However neither the girl nor the squirrel is quite ordinary. Ten-year-old Flora is a self-described cynic who lives by her favorite comic book’s advice: “Do not hope; instead, observe.” Ulysses is her ever-hungry companion who, since his harrowing encounter with a vacuum cleaner, has become an intellectually and spiritually enlightened creature. A host of characters as quirky as Flora and Ulysses converge to explore the novel’s deeper themes of loneliness, love and rejection—often through squirrel poetry. DiCamillo and illustrator K. G. Campbell collaborate to extend the comic book theme, reserving entire chapters for Campbell’s soft-penciled panels of sequential art. These graphic interludes require the reader to pause and contemplate the images’ relationship to the story. Looking closely at the tiny details Campbell has included, one can see the titles on the spines of books and even the sprinkles on a donut. For a tender look at love and relationships with a healthy dose of cynicism and superhero antics, don’t miss Flora & Ulysses.
Review by Jamie Bowers, Children's Librarian at the Paschalville Branch