Flora and Ulysses



Last updated Thursday, June 5, 2014

Author: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator: K.G. Campbell
Date of Publication: 2013
ISBN: 076366040X
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2014

Synopsis: It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry — and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Who is on the cover? Which do you think is Flora, and which do you think is Ulysses?
•  What kind of adventures do you think Flora and Ulysses go on?

Vocabulary:
•  high jinks ch1 - wild or playful behavior
•  malfeasance ch1 - illegal or dishonest activity especially by a public official or a corporation
•  cynic ch1 - a person who has negative opinions about other people and about the things people do
•  cogitation ch2 - the capacity to think or reflect; a single thought
•  indomitable ch3 - impossible to defeat or discourage
•  obliged ch5 - to force or require (someone or something) to do something
•  mundane ch7 - dull and ordinary
•  unassuming ch11 - no assuming; modest
•  heinous ch11 - hatefully or shockingly evil
•  dictums ch17 - a statement or well-known remark that expresses an important idea or rule
•  melodious ch18 - having a pleasing melody : having or making a pleasant musical sound
•  positing ch18 - to dispose or set firmly
•  obfuscate ch28 - darken; to make obscure
•  surreptitious ch29 - done, made, or acquired by stealth

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What kinds of books did Flora’s mother write?
•  What did Flora promise to do by signing the contract her mother gave her?
•  Have you ever read a comic book?
•  What happens to the squirrel?
•  How does Flora save the squirrel? How did she know to do that?
•  Have you ever found a hurt animal and taken it home?
•  After Flora saves the squirrel, what amazing thing does the squirrel do?
•  How does the squirrel get his name?
•  Do you have a favorite superhero?
•  What did Ulysses do while he was in the kitchen looking for food?
•  What other ‘superpower’ does Ulysses do in front of Flora’s mother and Tootie?
•  What does Ulysses type when Flora, Tootie, and William put him in front of a computer?
•  What does Flora’s mother want her father to do to Ulysses?
•  What happened at the Giant Do-Nut?
•  Where did Flora and her father take her squirrel after the Giant Do-Nut?

Craft ideas:
•  Write a short superhero story, and put it into a comic/graphic novel format (see the intro before chapter 1 for an example).
•  Write a poem about someone you care about (Father’s day is the weekend after the book club).
•  Create a superhero mask for Ulysses.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!