The winner of the Newbery medal in 2014 goes to “Flora and Ulysses,” by Kate DiCamillo. Kate has an impressive body of work, most of which include cute animals, such as “The Tale of Despereaux.”
There are several superheroes in this story. There is Flora, who discovers a squirrel getting sucked up in a vacuum cleaner and attempts to save the squirrel and come to terms with her parents’ divorce. There is William Spiver, who is temporarily blind, and somehow acts as an anchor for the other characters. Then there is Ulysses the squirrel, who discovers so much beauty in the world after being sucked into that vacuum cleaner that it inspires him to write poetry. He can also fly.
The story is silly, and at times has no point other than to entertain the reader. Pages are drenched in humor that pokes fun at the colorful characters, such as Flora's father, who constantly introduces himself, even when he knows every person in the room. The quest to save the squirrel from certain death doesn’t bear the weight it should. Still, the story is fun, with a lighthearted voice and whimsical illustrations for some scenes. “Flora and Ulysses” doesn’t hold a message as strong as last year’s Newbery winner, “The One and Only Ivan” did, but it has personality and timelessness.