Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

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Written by Kate DiCamillo – Illustrated by K. G. Campbell

(2013) Somerville, Massachussetts

Candlewick Press

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures is the charming story of Flora, a self-described cynic, and Ulysses the superhero squirrel.  When Flora rescues Ulysses from a high-powered vacuum cleaner, she discovers that he has superpowers.  Together they fight everything from evil cats to Flora’s angry mother. During their escapades Ulysses helps Flora find that love truly does exist in many forms.

2014 Newbery Award Winner


Phrases to describe this book: adventure, family, graphic novel, journey, relationships

Lexile Measure: 520L

ATOS Book Level: 4.3


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

Suggested Delivery: Independent reading or small group reading


Reading Strategies:

Before Reading: Have students fill out an anticipation guide with questions relating to what they think might happen in the story.  Students can read the first couple pages of the book to get an idea of what it might be about and decide whether they agree or disagree with certain statements presented in the guide.  This can be re-visited at the end of the book to see if students’ choices were correct. A template for the anticipation guide can be found here: Anticipation Guide Template

During Reading: Directed Reading Thinking Activity- students will engage in DRTA to help them break reading into sections while making and evaluating predictions along the way. Students will evaluate predictions based on their comprehension of what has happened in the story already.  More information about this reading strategy can be found at: DRTA Instructions

After Reading: Have students write a summary of the events that occurred in the story, making sure to include the main ideas, important details, as well as key words or phrases.  This will test students’ comprehension of the story.


Writing Activity: Have students write one more chapter (or even a poem written by one of the characters!) to be added to the end of the book.  What might they want to see happen with the characters? What do they think is a reasonable additional/alternate ending? Students should use what they already know about the characters to guide their writing.  This will help with inferential comprehension because it requires students to take what they already know about the characters and expand upon the story in a reasonable way.


Additional Resources:

The following link will be useful to teachers as an additional resource to support classroom learning when reading Flora & Ulysses: Teacher’s Guide. It includes potential writing prompts, discussion questions, as well as a vocabulary fill-in-the-blank sheet to assist students in better understanding some of the new vocabulary words introduced in the text.

An interview with author Kate DiCamillo can be found here: Interview. This interview will allow readers to better understand who the author is as well as her inspiration for writing.

Here is an additional video interview with Kate DiCamillo: Video Interview. In this interview DiCamillo talks about the choice to include comic strip scenes as well as her real-life encounter with a squirrel that inspired her to write the novel.

The book trailer for Flora & Ulysses by Candlewick Press can be found by clicking here.  This is a good visual tool to introduce the book to students and get them excited for reading!


Key Vocabulary:

  • carriage return- (on a typewriter) the key or mechanism that causes the next character typed to appear at the left margin and on a new line.
  • cynic– a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view.
  • malfeasance– the performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustified,harmful, or contrary to law; wrongdoing
  • nemesis– an opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
  • temporarily- not permanant
  • trauma– an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.
  • unanticipated-not expected

(definitions obtained/modified from dictionary.com)

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