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Intro

In A Nutshell

Have you ever wished you were friends with a superhero? It seems like it could seriously come in handy and also make for some good stories over lunch, right?

For Flora Belle Buckman, this dream becomes reality when she witnesses a squirrel getting vacuumed up and manages to save it. The squirrel is more than just alive, though, and when it comes to, it does so with some pretty super powers. This is the unlikely friendship that forms is the basis for Flora and Ulysses, Kate DiCamillo's off-beat 2013 book.

The fun doesn't stop there, though, Flora and Ulysses is jam-packed with adventure and—wait for it—comics. We get to see Ulysses (the superhero squirrel) in all his glory in comic book form, just like our favorite Marvel and DC heroes. It's both unusual and pretty cool, and probably helped this book win the 2014 Newbery Award and get a National Book Award nod. Because while it's not every day that a girl befriends a squirrel, and Ulysses definitely isn't your textbook superhero, this mash-up of novel and graphic novel is also pretty darn unique.

Which is only fitting, after all, when there's a flying, poetry-writing squirrel to read about.

 

Why Should I Care?

We're betting you've never run into a superhero squirrel or seen an animal sucked up by a vacuum cleaner and survive. (If you have, send us a video link, pronto). Still, there's loads to relate to in this story because at the heart of it, Flora and Ulysses is about a preteen girl who's just trying to fit in.

Flora loves reading disaster stories and superhero comics so much that her mom worries about her. In fact, her mom even points out that Flora's not normal and insists she stop being a loner. Ouch. We know her mom means well, but this understandably leaves Flora feeling like there's a bit to be desired when it comes to her mother. And when she starts hanging out with a squirrel, she feels like she finally has the BFF she's always wanted, but her mom completely—okay, murderously—flips out.

It's tough growing up and facing the pressures of family, friends, and just trying to fit in with everyone around you. Flora isn't like other kids her age. She enjoys reading stuff that no one else cares about, and she's a proud cynic, but as she goes on adventures with Ulysses, she does some good hard thinking about the kind of person she wants to be. And aside from having a superhero squirrel at our side to help us out, we totally know what that's like.

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