Friday, April 18, 2014

'Flora and Ulysses'

For many of us, life can be tough.  General fiction books are a nice comfort, but there's nothing like diving into a children's story to make us feel all soft and squishy. And happy.

Happy is important.

I love to read children's books; Harry Potter, Black Beauty, Capt. Underpants (yes, Captain Underpants!), the Magic Treehouse series, Artemis Fowl, etc.  The list is endless, and each one brings me a fresh perspective.  No matter how hard life can be, a simple, funny, sweet story full of optimism dislodges the adult-induced stress from my brain.

Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite children's book authors.  I have several of her books in first edition/first printing, and I cherish them. 'The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane' brings me to tears every time I read it.  I was overjoyed to learn that her new book, 'Flora and Ulysses' was finally available at the library!  Seriously.  Overjoyed!

It's quite different from her previous stories.  Not that that's a bad thing, of course.  It's full of love and optimism, superheroes and hope.  It has a squirrel and a little girl who loves him. It has a selfish mother who really, really pissed me off, and a gentle father who needed his daughter more than he thought.  It also has a potential friend, William Spiver, who thinks he's blind, and his great-aunt, Tootie, who is a true marvel.

But it's Flora and Ulysses who are the center of this wonderful story.

Flora is a cynic, living with her author mother (she write romance stories).  Flora's parents are divorced, and she sees her father on a regular basis.  When she looks out her window one day, she sees her neighbor, Tootie, outside, chasing down her gift from her husband:  A huge vacuum cleaner!  A poor little squirrel gets in the way, and is soon sucked into the machine. Flora's quick thinking saves the little guy...and the adventure begins.

Author Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator K.G. Campbell
Told in text and comic book style, 'Flora and Ulysses' is a departure for DiCamillo, but well worth the read. Up-and-coming artist, K. G. Campbell, provides the fantastic, whimsical b/w illustrations.

They have given us the gift of an exciting, heartbreaking (in some spots) story.

But, most of all, it's wonderful.

I hope that DiCamillo and her illustrator, K. G. Campbell, turn this into a series.  I'll be first in line to read it.

Flora and Ulysses' is available at your library and local bookstore.  ISBN 9780763660406.  Give it a read and watch your perspective change for the better!

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