Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Holy unanticipated occurrences!

Kate has done it again. I thought I loved Because of Winn Dixie. I thought I loved The Tale of Despereaux, and The Magician’s Elephant. But, Flora and Ulysses is taking my breath, and we’re only on page 66.

For one thing, Flora is a self-proclaimed cynic. Who uses a word such as “cynic” in a children’s book? Only the most expert of writers such as E. B. White and Kate DiCamillo.

“What does cynic mean?” my class asked, and we had a long discussion about how a cynic is a person who believes that others are motivated more by selfish reasons than honorable ones.

But, it wasn’t as long a discussion as the one we had about “treacherous”.
“Do you mind, Flora Belle?” he said. “Would it trouble you terribly if I put my hand on your shoulder and allowed you to guide me back to Great-Aunt Tootie’s house? The world is a treacherous place when you can’t see.”
Flora didn’t bother pointing out to him that the world was a treacherous place when you could see.” (p. 58)
“What do you think?” I asked. “Is the world a treacherous place?”  The children took out their Reader’s Response Journals and wrote down their thoughts…
“We are reading Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. Flora says the world is a treacherous place. I think she’s wrong because you can almost trust your family, and your houses are big and stable and you almost never get hurt outside. You can play and the flowers won’t hurt you, and you can trust your very best friend. When it rains it gives you pretty much a free car wash. And that’s a few ways Flora is wrong.” ~Zion
Not everyone agreed. Many children, almost half, felt that the world is a treacherous place. How sad to think that true at only eight years of age.
“It may be a treacherous place, dear children,” I said. “But, however much is in your power, try to make it a trustworthy place. When you give a promise keep it. When you see someone who is sad, try to cheer him up.”
So many lessons from just one book. I know I will have a lot more to say when I have finished it. For now, I can’t recommend it highly enough. 

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