Review: Flora & Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo

2 stars (It was okay).

Flora & Ulysses cover (link to Goodreads)

This is the sort of book a six-year-old would probably love. It’s absolutely bonkers silly. None of it makes any sense. It’s precious and cute and zany.

I’m talking: Flora’s mother ignores her, focusing instead on her romance writing career. Her father, separated from her mother, is loving but a pushover. One day, Flora sees her neighbor vacuum up a squirrel in her back yard. The squirrel survives and develops the power to fly and write poetry. Hijinks ensue.

I barely got through it. If it had been longer, I would have given up. There were moments I liked, and I generally liked the main character, but I absolutely didn’t “get” it. My favorite parts involved William Spiver and Flora’s dad. There are cute pictures and very short chapters, so I’d recommend this for an emerging reader, around the same time they might be reading Junie B. Jones or My Weird School.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

3 stars (I liked it).

Echo cover (link to Goodreads)

This book had a very interesting format. There are really four stories in this book: the framing “fairy tale” story and then three stories with three different main characters in three different historical settings, one in Nazi Germany, one in an orphanage in Pennsylvania, and one in California during Japanese internment. All are tied together with one magical harmonica and with musical themes.

I loved the musical aspect, and there were some really beautiful thoughts expressed, but I didn’t really find that each individual story caught me as much as I wanted it to. Some parts seemed far-fetched or confusing. I kind of hated how each story ended, and the very end of the book fell flat for me.

That said, the book kept my attention all the way through, and the last section (the one about a girl whose Japanese neighbors are taken away by the government) was my favorite. I loved the brave heroine.

Overall I liked it. You probably will too.