Flora & Ulysses – Literature – Evaluation

The story is lovely, exciting and funny. Kate DiCamillo has created a children´s novel, which is one of a kind. Not only the combination of the written language with comic strips, but also her creative writing style make the book unique. She has created a number of extraordinary characters who participate in the story, in their own particular way. Moreover, the multiple comic strips bring the characters to life and support the reader´s imagination.

Actually, because it is not a typical children’s book, everyone would enjoy reading the novel, but especially children between eight and fourteen may prefer it because the narrative deals with issues children and teenage readers are concerned with.  DiCamillo writes, for example, about love, friendship, relationships with parents, and divorce, which are topics that clearly affect the average young reader. The concerns and challenges that Flora faces, be they her difficult relationship with her mother, her loneliness, or her first romantic feelings towards a boy, are all topics that an average adolescent reader can relate to.

Consequently, teachers can use this book in their literature class because it provides a lot of content to teach. The multilayered book is relatable and accessible to their students. Moreover, the generic variety will also give teachers a lot to work with. They can play with the superhero conceit and use the comic strips to offer multiple methods of storytelling. The inclusion of poetry in the novel opens the door to tasks which could challenge students to try their hand at this literary form as well.

However, while the content and genres may be accessible, the language is not always straightforward. Some characters, in particular William Spiver and Dr. Meescham, use extraordinary words and expressions that might be difficult for foreign language learners. Furthermore, the epic quality of the superhero genre sometimes calls for language, which is beyond the reader’s comprehension. However, the use of comic strips and illustrations can support understanding by providing context and visual clues. Nevertheless, teachers should be aware that they might need to address difficult vocabulary in class to ensure reading comprehension.