When I saw Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures at the library in the new section a few weeks ago, I had to pick it up. When I flipped it over and saw the following on the back cover, I knew we had to read it aloud as a family:
"She stood at the window and watched as the squirrel was vacuumed up. Poof. Fwump. 'Holy bagumba!' said Flora."
Flora is Flora Belle Buckman, ten-year-old self-proclaimed cynic. She witnesses an accident involving the neighbor's powerful new vacuum and a squirrel. The squirrel manifests strange new powers after the incident. We also meet the neighbor's nephew, William Spiver, who afflicts us with a high-pitched voice and is afflicted with temporary blindness. Mary Ann is one of the villains in this story--despite her being a shepherdess lamp.
Flora applies advice from the comic Terrible Things Can Happen to You! to the situations she finds herself in throughout the book. There are also chapters from the squirrel's point of view, and some comic strips here and there of the action. The story was absolutely charming! We laughed our way through the whole thing and got teary-eyed through parts. While Flora has a bit of a "my parents are dumb" mentality, truth be told, they rather were, and even if parents may not approve of her cynical attitude sometimes, her situation makes it entirely understandable.
Warning: you and/or your children may run around the house speaking like William Spiver, referencing Terrible Things Can Happen to You, fantasizing about giant doughnuts, yelling "holy bagumba" and "holy unanticipated occurrences," and naming all the squirrels in your backyard Ulysses.
I also just found out that this book is a 2014 Newbery award winner. So, if you're looking for a great middle grade book to read with your children, I highly recommend this one! Do you have a good read-aloud story to share?