by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K. G. Campbell
First sentence: “In the Tickham kitchen late on a summer afternoon…”
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Review copy pilfered from the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Flora is a cynic. Her mother is a romance writer and Flora is positive that she loves the shepherdess lamp more than her own child. Her father is awkward, his opening line being, “George Buckman. How do you do?”
Then one day, a squirrel gets vacuumed up by Flora’s neighbors ultra-spiffy vacuum, and (after they determine that it’s not dead) gains superpowers. Well, he can communicate with Flora, type out poetry, and fly. Flora is convinced that means the squirrel — which she named Ulysses after the vacuum — is meant to save the world.
I wanted to love Kate DiCamillo’s latest with my whole heart. I didn’t. I liked it well enough; Flora is clever, and Ulysses is cute. But, I never felt like I connected with the characters. I felt that while it was clever and sweet, it lacked heart and depth. (Yeah, I know: it’s for younger readers. That doesn’t mean it can’t have depth.) I did like the illustrations, quite a bit, and I liked what DiCamillo was trying to get across here.
So, chalk it up to me and my slight reading slump. It may be a lot better than what I ended up thinking it was.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)