Flora And Ulysses Summary

Kate DiCamillo

Flora And Ulysses

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Flora And Ulysses Summary

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Kate DiCamillo’s children’s novel Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (2013), illustrated by K. G. Campbell, is the story of a young girl, Flora Belle Buckman, and a squirrel named Ulysses. Along with individual illustrations, the book includes graphics in the form of comic book panels. The action begins when Flora Belle’s neighbor, Mrs. Tickham, accidentally vacuums up a squirrel with a Ulysses Super-Suction Multi-Terrain 2000X vacuum. Comic lover Flora Belle sees this happen and goes to the squirrel’s rescue. She finds that the squirrel, now called Ulysses, is unharmed and has superpowers. It can fly and write poetry. Flora Belle believes it is her fate in life to help the squirrel and to protect him from his nemesis, whomever that might be.

Flora, who is not on the best of terms with her mother following the divorce of her parents, decides that her mother is the squirrel’s nemesis. She sets out to save Ulysses from her mother, but, as it turns out, the squirrel might have to save them. The family dynamics and the quest to understand oneself become themes as the story unfolds. Flora has made an agreement with her mother to explore a higher level of literature than the comic books she has been reading. Especially important to Flora are comic books featuring a janitor named Alfred T. Slipper. In those books, Alfred falls into a cleaning liquid, which transforms him into the superhero Incandesto. Having shared these with her father has made them a type of connection to him.

After rescuing Ulysses from the vacuum, Flora brings him into her house. She makes no attempt to hide the animal, but her mother is unaware of its presence as she is focused on writing her newest romance novel. That night, Flora speaks with the squirrel; he seems to understand what she says, reinforcing her feeling that he is a superhero. During the night, the squirrel makes his way to the kitchen to find some food. He types a few words on the typewriter that Flora’s mother uses for her work. Mrs. Buckman finds that her typewriter has been used and, assuming it was Flora, becomes angry with her. As the mother and daughter are arguing with each other, someone arrives at the door.

Flora goes to the door and finds Mrs. Tickham. The neighbor asks to see the squirrel that Flora rescued. Flora explains that the squirrel is now named Ulysses and that he wrote with her mother’s typewriter. At that point, Mrs. Tickham’s nephew William Spiver arrives. William, who is Flora’s age, says he has temporary blindness. Flora does not like him right from the start. Mrs. Tickham, William, and Flora go to Mrs. Tickham’s house to talk about the squirrel. William does not believe the animal really used the typewriter and challenges him to use Mrs. Tickham’s computer. Ulysses shows that he does have the ability and writes a poem. Flora needs to return home to join her father for their weekly outing. When they return home, Flora eavesdrops on her parents’ conversation. She hears her mother tell her father that she believes Ulysses is sick and asks Mr. Buckman to kill the squirrel and bury it. This convinces Flora more than ever that her mother is Ulysses’s archenemy.

When going out to breakfast with her father, Flora convinces her father to take Ulysses with them. A waitress at the diner screams upon seeing Ulysses. This frightens the animal, which gets stuck in the waitress’ hair and then flies into a door. After leaving the diner, they go to Mr. Buckman’s apartment building where there is a mean cat that Flora tries to avoid. While dealing with the cat, Flora sees an apartment where two doctors live, according to the door. One of the doctors, Dr. Meescham, is a friend of Mr. Buckman’s and a doctor of philosophy. The doctor looks at a cut on Ulysses’s head and says that the animal is fine. They have sandwiches, and Dr. Meescham shares stories of her past and her late husband. Returning home from her visit with her father, Flora finds William in her kitchen with her mother. Flora tells her mother that she wants to move in with her father, leading to a verbal conflict. Flora’s father convinces her that she should stay with her mother. Mrs. Buckman, seeming to have softened, lets Ulysses have dinner at the table with them.

That night, although Flora has told Ulysses to stay out of the kitchen, he goes in to use the typewriter. Mrs. Buckman catches him writing a poem and makes him write a note containing lies to Flora. Then she removes him from the house. When Flora discovers that he is gone, she goes to ask William to help her find him. When she awakens William, he gets Mrs. Tickham and they go in search of Ulysses. After running out of gas in Mrs. Tickham’s car, they continue on foot. William trips and finds that he has regained his sight. Meanwhile, Ulysses has escaped from Mrs. Buckman in the woods and makes his way back to Dr. Meescham. They all end up at Mr. Buckman’s apartment building where the cat attacks Mrs. Buckman. Ulysses rescues Mrs. Buckman, who shares how worried she was when she found that Flora was not at home. This begins a healing process among the family members.