Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, ills. by K.G. Campbell (Candlewick)
This may be Kate DiCamillo’s wildest book yet and it works like a charm. Every character is off-beat but still tethered sufficiently to reality. Mom is a romance writer, Dad is an oddball who is forever reintroducing himself to people, Tootie from next door accidentally vacuumed up a squirrel (Ulysses of the title), and that’s just the beginning. Flora is our protagonist and she is a misfit kid who lives in the world of comic books. When Tootie vacuums up Ulysses, she takes him in and realizes that there’s much more to Ulysses than being a squirrel. He writes poetry, he can fly, but most of all he can be a friend. Flora’s friend William Spiver is temporarily blind and is fascinated by Flora and Ulysses. It’s a very quirky story (which appeals) and the writing is lovely. In the end, I think that a poetry writing squirrel is just what the world of children’s books needs. I should also mention that bits of the book have comic-like illustrations that resonate well with Flora’s addiction to her comics. This comes out in September so we have to wait for the final art work but the sketches in the ARC were wonderful.