"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, October 7, 2013

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

It's Monday, and I am reading, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by K.G. Campbell.
Wait, let me rephrase that, I am rereading and rereading, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.

~~Rereading, Part the First~~
I am reading and rereading it because I need to keep interrupting the people around me to read aloud to them from 
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.

This book begs to be read aloud.  
This book begs to be shared.  

Kate DiCamillo, with the help of K.G. Campbell's illustrations and graphic interludes, has created an engagingly quirky novel that speaks to the reader, literally and figuratively. If Flora sees her words hanging above her head, I hear the words echoing through my head, words like malfeasance and cynic or phrases like extended hallucinations, temporary blindness induced by trauma, or holy unanticipated consequences. They beg to be read aloud.

I want to walk around my school reading aloud, especially this part that refers to a contract Flora has signed, she promises to "work to turn her face away from the idiotic high jinks of comics and toward the bright light of true literature." This little bit is funny and brilliant and timely. 

How can I not share the wisdom of an almost eleven year old, especially one who has gained most of her insight from reading The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto!and it's bonus comic, 
Terrible Things Can Happen to You!  

Wisdom such as: 

Do not hope. Only Observe. 

I love the things Flora thinks. "There is just no predicting what kind of sentences you might say, thought Flora. For instance, who would ever think you would shout, "You're going to vacuum up that squirrel!"?

This book is full of magical thinking, words of wisdom, and wonderful characters. This book is full of poetry and love. This book is full of words and ideas that need to be said out loud and pondered and shared. 

I love a whole lotta things:

I love that this book does not fit neatly into any genre category. I love the graphic elements.

I love the characters' names.

I love that Kate DiCamillo addresses some pretty heavy themes in this book, but does so in a way that makes them accessible and understandable.

I love how a lamp can become so symbolic.

I love that all the heroes and heroines wear glasses.

I love that Flora is a A Surprisingly Helpful Cynic. 

I love that simple acts are heroic. 

I love Ulysses. I love his passion. I love his superpowers.  In an article for Publisher's Weekly, Kate shares that “Those are the two big superpowers to me,” DiCamillo says. “Poetry and love.”

I love the respect that Kate DiCamillo has for her for readers. The language is rich and the humor is wry.  

Want to know the real scoop?  Listen to this MPR interview with Kate DiCamillo.

Want to see some good author fun? Check out Barbara O'Connor's message to Kate DiCamillo.

~~Rereading, Part the Second~~

I am reading this book for the second time because the first time was way back in once upon a time time, or April, which just feels that way.   

I was first introduced to Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures at the Candlewick
fall preview where...
Kate read from 
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,
which she described as "girl meets squirrel."
She had a room full of book lovers and readers laughing, gasping, and calling out, 
oh wait, maybe that was only me calling out...

I love Kate's books, 
my children love Kate's books, 
and my students love Kate's books, 
but now I more than love them because of meeting her

What an engaging, personable, and fun individual!
Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, started the It's Monday What Are You Reading meme for children's literature.  You can follow the #IMWAYR  hashtag on Twitter or go to Jen's Webpage, Teach Mentor Texts to see which blogs have linked up.


  1. Hello there Jennifer, this post is brimming with so much book love, I just feel that I have to grab this newest title of Kate DiCamillo right away. Unfortunately we don't have it yet in our libraries. Hopefully before the year ends. Priceless experience and photographs! :) It's always great to meet authors!

  2. I'm also reading and loving this book. What a treat. And I feel the same way about wanting to share with everybody. But I'm not quite finished so will come back to read your thoughts again, later. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm.