Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

2014-flora-and-ulysses-header

  • Written by: Kate DiCamillo
  • Illustrated by:  K.G. Campbell 
  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Paperback: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (September 13, 2016)

Summary: Flora describes herself as a cynic, a person who is always looking at the negative. One day Flora gains two friends, a superhero squirrel named Ulysses, and William, the boy next door. Through their adventures to try to protect and save Ulysses from Floras mother, who just isn’t a believer yet, Flora discovers that maybe being a cynic isn’t what its cracked up to be. This isn’t just the story of a young girl and her squirrel, its the story of young romance, torn family relationships, and how even the smallest laughter can bring them back together again.

5 keywords: Fiction, Anthropomorphic, Newbury Award Winner, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade 

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.3.A
Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

Suggested Delivery: Independent read.

Electronic Resources: This is a great pre-reading video for getting the students excited to read Flora and Ulysses. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6cdkkJvgaA

This can be used at any time during the book reading, it is an interview with the illustrator, and includes some images from other works he has done. http://www.readbrightly.com/meet-illustrator-kg-campbell/

Website: http://www.floraandulysses.com/book.html This is a website full of student and teaching resources for the novel. It includes discussion guides and author question and answer posts.

Teaching guide – This is a teaching guide from the publishers, it provides succinct details about the author and illustrator, at the same time divides pre-reading, during and post-reading questions. Much of those lessons can be based off of this website, and the questions can help formulate assessment. http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/076366040X.bdg.1.pdf

Key Vocabulary: 

Malfeasance – Illegal or wrong activity

Hallucinations – When you see something that isn’t real

Multiplicity – A large number of something

Induce – To cause something to happen

Trauma – A terrible experience that causes a person to have emotional or mental consequences

Profoundly – To have great knowledge and understanding

Radioactive – Something that has radiation

Treacherousness – Not able to be trusted

Cryptic – When something has hidden meaning

Cynic – A person who is negative

Euphemism – Picking a word which sounds better than another word, that is unpleasant

Foreboding – When you feel something bad is going to happen

Treacle – Blend of molasses, sugar and corn syrup

Before: Prior to reading the story have students fill in a KWL chart in their writing notebooks based on the book trailer and descriptions. Based on this the student will begin to build schema and become self-aware of what they know and what they do not know about the story they are about to read. 

This is a great point to make about judging books by their covers. Students may assume things about the story based on the first few chapters. This book is full of surprises and was not an ending I was fully expecting, so students may have things they think they know about the book, but these won’t happen. 

During: While reading the story the students can fill in the W and L parts of the KWL chart. They are also welcome to fill in any K parts, if they find they know something that is being discussed in the story.

After: After reading the students are invited to finish their KWL charts. They should fill in any vocabulary words they did not know, and if they cannot find the answer to a question encourage them to research this in a dictionary. Use their questions for book discussions. Ask at if any point during their reading if their question was answered later, or made sense as they read. 

Writing Activity: Have the students write a summary about the story twice, using a different tone of voice for each. One time they will use a cynical voice to summarize the story, and the other time they should use an idealistic tone. This will have students use their literal comprehension skills for summarizing the story, but based on how they understood Flora’s transformation from cynic to more optimistic, their summaries will also be inferential.

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