15 May 2014
Flora and Ulysses
Every year, the John Newbery Medal is awarded to the author who makes the most esteemed contribution to American literature for children. Well-renowned author of many children novels, Kate DiCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses makes a splash in the literary world. Straying away from the conventional storylines of children books yet still retaining elements that appeal to many young readers, DiCamillo challenges her creativity to entertain the idea of a young girl’s imagination that is run primarily by a comic series and the adventures she tackles with superhero, friend, and squirrel, Ulysses. After being swallowed and regurgitated by a vacuum, Ulysses gains the many motor skills of a superhero, including flying, being courageous, and attaining the intellectual level that goes above and beyond your everyday squirrel. Amidst Flora and Ulysses’ adventures, DiCamillo also gently introduces the tough reality of imperfect family relationships and unstable mental health as a result of trauma. In equalization, she also brings forth the possibility of rekindling lost family connections through struggle and finding emotional stabilization again. Despite not particularly falling under the typical criteria of a classic, Flora and Ulysses emphasizes the central moral values of children’s’ literature, and teaches lessons in a fun, relatable way for children and adults alike. By definition, a classic never loses its glitter no matter how long ago it has been written and represents any type of universal human condition that can be relatable, over and over again. A classic is also described to be elastic, in such a way that it can be stretched and shrunken into altering forms but at its core, remains the same in which the same morals and themes can be taught. According to the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children), in identifying excellence in American literature for children, interpretation of theme, clarity and organization,...
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