"Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures" by Kate DiCamillo

Far out! That pretty much describes my November Picks, a trio of silly books students seemed to enjoy. What better way to spend a day then in the company of a child who befriends a squash, a bunny set to take on the world, and a squirrel with super powers. You’re sure to relish reading these reviews! Remember to “Page On” in the new year!

“Sophie’s Squash,” by Pat Zietlow Miller.

Reviewed by Kaylee Benhardt, Second Grade, St. John the Baptist School.

“I thought this book would be about a girl with a squash. It was about a girl who bought and named a squash. She took care of it like a baby until it started to rot. Then she planted it. I liked the book. It was silly that she named and took care of a squash. I’m like Sophie because I like taking care of things.”

Reviewed by Annie Obermark, St. John the Baptist School.

“I thought this book would be about a squash. It was. Once upon a time there was a squash; then someone bought it. Then the little Sophie drew a face on the squash and treated it like a baby. I loved the book! It was funny. I would be like Sophie because I don’t want to eat a squash.”

Reviewed by Hayden Ley, Second Grade, St. John the Baptist School.

“I read ‘Sophie’s Squash.’ I thought it would be about a girl growing a squash. The book was about a girl who bought a squash and named it Bernice. One day her dad bought a fish named Ace because Bernice was a squash and she was rotting. They didn’t want the girl to be sad because her squash was gone. Then she buried the squash, and it grew.

“I liked this book because I thought it was funny. You’re supposed to eat a squash, not play with it. I’m like Sophie because I plant vegetables.”

Reviewed by Brandon Dowil, Second Grade, St. John the Baptist School.

“I thought this book would be about a girl with a squash. It was about a girl who loved her squash. It was weird because Sophie drew a face on the squash. You are supposed to eat squash, not play with them. I am like Sophie because I don’t like eating squash.”

Reviewed by Joseph Zagarri, Kindergarten, Beaufort Elementary School.

“Sophie is so silly! She has a vegetable for a best friend! Her parents don’t understand. The squash got spots and got squishy. Sophie was sad, but she planted it to feel better.

“The parents tried to get her a fish…boring. After winter, it was spring, and Bernice the Squash sprouted. Sophie was happy and watched the plant grow every day. Then she was surprised to see two baby squash! Everyone was happy.”

“Battle Bunny,” by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett.

Reviewed by Isabelle Zagarri, Third Grade, Beaufort Elementary School.

“’Battle Bunny’ is supposed to be ‘Birthday Bunny,’ but since Gran Gran gave that book to Alex, he doodled all over it and made it ‘Battle Bunny’ instead and somehow they published it. Also instead of ‘it’s your birthday,’ Alex wrote ‘it’s doomsday!’ Alex put himself in the book too, with the president. All the animals, Bunny’s friends, Alex made Bunny’s enemies. Bunny knows 1, 104 styles of kicks, and Ninja Turtle (Turtle) and Shaolin Bear (Bear) only know 1,103. ‘Battle Bunny’ is a funny book. Kids will laugh out loud!”

Reviewed by Mrs. Burke’s Second Grade Class, St. John the Baptist School.

“When we read the title of this book, and looked at the cover, we thought that it might be about a battle between a bunch of bunnies or an angry bunny. This story was about a bunny that had a birthday. He thought none of his friends remembered his special day, and his friends found a way to surprise him.

“He used his editing skills to make the story seem more exciting. He even made his friends seem a little mean. We liked how he changed the story. It was very funny because his second story was full of actions that were a little ridiculous. We also liked all the action in the rewrite.”

“Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” by Kate DiCamillo.

Reviewed by Cole McPherson, Eighth Grade, Washington Middle School.

“This book is about a girl and a squirrel’s exciting adventures. The setting takes place at Flora’s house and many other places, such as the Giant Do-Nut. The purpose of this book is to entertain middle age kids while teaching a lesson.

“The main characters are Flora; Ulysses, the squirrel; Flora’s father, George Buckman; William Spiver, who likes Flora; and Dr. Meescham, the vet. In the beginning, a squirrel gets sucked up in a vacuum cleaner called a Ulysses 2000x. Flora gets the squirrel out of the vacuum, decides to keep him as a pet and names him Ulysses, after the vacuum.

“Flora and Ulysses go on different adventures with Flora’s father, George. One of the places they go is the Giant Do-Nut. Flora takes Ulysses to the restaurant in a shoebox. Ulysses escapes, ends up on the head of a waitress, flies off of it and smacks into a window. Ulysses passes out, so Flora rushes him to Dr. Meescham to have him checked out.

“I think the author did a very good job writing the story. She made her point by showing that no matter what kind of person you are, you can be helpful. My favorite part of the story is where Flora gets the squirrel out of the vacuum cleaner because I think it is very kind to save the squirrel and it was hilarious to read. I also liked when Flora went on the different adventures with Ulysses and her father because they are really funny characters and made me laugh as well.

“I can relate to Flora because I would have done some of the same things that she did—like saving the squirrel. I also can relate to George Buckman because I would have not killed the squirrel, like Flora’s mother wanted to. This book is similar to other books I have read because it’s an adventurous story with good moral lessons taught at the same time.

“I would recommend this book to any middle school student. If you like to read really fun adventures—you will like this book. I give it four out of five beehives.”

Reviewed by Kaylin Zeltmann, Eighth Grade, Washington Middle School.

“If readers want a good entertaining, funny book, this is the book for them! The genre is not really realistic; it has many fantasy superheroes and other things throughout the story.

“In the beginning, Flora’s neighbor, Mrs. Tickham, vacuums up a squirrel. She does everything she can to try and retrieve the squirrel. After the squirrel got spit out of the vacuum, she starts to realize that this squirrel is different, not the same as a normal squirrel—it understands human language.

“Flora names the squirrel Ulysses. She starts to think of him as a superhero, because of all the comics she reads. As time goes on, she starts to think Ulysses has a nemesis, like superheroes do in her comic books. Flora’s parents are divorced. She starts to realize that her mother is a villain. Her father tries to help save Ulysses. Read this great book to find out more!

“The author’s technique in the book was excellent. She was very unique and funny in her own ways. I did think that DiCamillo got her point across in the book; she made it very detailed: ‘A window was left open. A squirrel flies in the window. The heart of an old woman rejoices!’

“DiCamillo’s writing style is different and I enjoyed it very much. This book wasn’t really anything like I’ve ever read before, and I’m happy I tried it out!”

“Any age would probably be able to read this book, probably grades fourth through eighth. The book would be a good family book; the whole family should enjoy its entertainment.”

Reviewed by Morgan Hammer, Age 10, Immaculate Conception School.

“This book is a story of how this young girl and a mischievous squirrel have many wonderful adventures, such as the time Ulysses is almost sucked up into a vacuum. This book is full of ups and downs, but one thing you will see on every page is love.

“I would refer this book to my dad because he always enjoys a good laugh. He often makes people around him laugh.

“In this story, Flora feels like she is not loved by her mother. This squirrel brings joy into her life. This story is full of surprises or as Flora would say holy bagumba!

“In this book, Flora’s mom takes Ulysses in a sack to…kidnap, (or squirrel nap)! Flora knows it’s up to her not only to save a squirrel but her very best friend. I have loved this book and I really, really, really hope Ms. DiCamillo will write another book about Flora and Ulysses.”

Reviewed by Sarah Rembecki, Fifth Grade, Immaculate Conception School.

“Brilliantly hilarious, ‘Flora and Ulysses’ is a book with lots of family. I loved this book because Flora loved Ulysses, and Ulysses loved Flora. When Ulysses wanted a giant donut, it was sad when he never got one.

“It all started with a vacuum, and it led to Ulysses saving the day, or something like that, with a little help from William Spiver, the despicable mother, the stupid Marg Ann, the hilarious George Buckman, the fast-driving Tootie, the record-playing Dr. Meescham and the natural born cynic, Flora.

“Holy Bagumba! that squirrel has powers. He can talk, or something, type, sort of, and fly. I was never bored in this story, so I listened all the way through.

“I recommend this book to everyone who likes humor, squirrels and giant donuts.”

Reviewed by Wil Schmucke, Fifth Grade, Immaculate Conception School.

“I liked ‘Flora and Ulysses’ because it was a great story with funny characters. There were funny moments in it. They had great names. The vacuum cleaner’s name was Ulysses so the squirrel got named Ulysses too because he got sucked up in the vacuum.

“I would inspire that kids read this story. The illustrator and author did really good with this book. More people should read this. It was a great kid’s book. Kate DiCamillo is a great author.”

Reviewed by Macie Steffens, Fifth Grade, Our Lady of Lourdes School.

“I loved this book. It was an easy ready and very interesting. It is about a girl named Flora and a flying, typing squirrel named Ulysses.

“This book was about all of the adventures that the two friends had. When Flora found out the squirrel could type, they wrote down the adventures.

“This is now one of my favorite books. It is written by the same author who wrote ‘Because of Winn Dixie,’ that we just read in school.”