Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures


Written by: Kate DiCamillo

Illustrated by: K.G. Campbell

For parents of independent readers, we provide a set of questions that should give you insight into what your child is reading and help you engage him/her in meaningful conversations about literature. We recommend using the questions provided here as a springboard for deeper conversation about Flora & Ulysses and what your child takes away from the book. Enjoy!


Summary

Flora is living in a world where she doesn't allow the possibility of hope. Her parents are divorced, and comic books are her favorite pastime. Flora feels alone and is prepared for the worst life has to offer when a random act of improbability connects her to Ulysses the squirrel, who becomes her champion. As both Flora and Ulysses begin to vanquish evil, they also help each other to believe, hope, and find love. (Candlewick Press)


Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Create a K-W-L Chart and have your child fill in the first two columns with information that s/he knows and wants to find out about the story. S/he can fill in the last column, "What I Learned", once s/he has finished the story.

What I Know

After reading the description on the back cover, let your child think about what s/he already knows about the story. Who are the main characters, what do they have in common, etc?

What I Want to Know

Include questions that your child might have about the plot, characters and setting. 

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Things to Consider

Talk to your child about what a genre is. List all of the genres that s/he knows: fiction, non-fiction, thriller, fantasy, action, mystery, etc. Ask your child what genre this story could be and discuss what other stories s/he has read from that genre. Is it fiction? What makes a story fiction? What other fiction stories has s/he read? Also, this story is about superheroes, so talk to your child about other superheroes that s/he knows. Let your child compare and contrast the superhero in this story to the ones that s/he already knows.


Discussion Questions

  1. Flora's mother has called her a "natural-born cynic" and Flora doesn't deny it. What do you think this means? Why do you think she sees the world in such a cynical manner? How does her family situation play into this?
  2. When Flora sees Ulysses being sucked into the vacuum, something strange occurs. What happens to Ulysses? How is he different from before? 
  3. Many impossible things happen in this story that greatly affect the lives of the characters. What are some of these events? Have any unlikely events happened in your life? What were they? How did they affect your life?
  4. Ulysses becomes a superhero after the vacuum incident. Choose another superhero that you know and compare and contrast them. Do they have any of the same weaknesses? Any of the same strengths?
  5. Which character do you think is the most like you? What do you have in common? What are your differences? If you could ask that character one thing, what would it be?
  6. If you could continue this story, what would you want to see happen to Ulysses and Flora? What would their next adventure be?

 

Above all, be sure to engage your child in a discussion about the plot line and his/her thoughts and feelings about the book. Ask what s/he likes, encourage exploration related to the book, and every now and again, offer to read parts of the book aloud, just for fun!


Extending the Story

Check out this interview with author Kate DiCamillo to learn about what inspired her to write this story. Then, write your own superhero story! It could be a kung fu fighting monkey or an elephant that can make him/herself invisible. Whatever it is, be sure to come up with his/her strengths and weaknesses and an adventure that s/he can go on. 

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