2014 Award Winners

Flora and Ulysses

DiCamillo, Kate. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Illustrated by K.G. Campbell. Candlewick Press, 2013. 240 pages.  TR. $17.99  ISBN 978-0763660406

After saving a squirrel from death, Flora realizes he has superpowers and brings him home to be her friend.

Fantasy Fiction/Graphic Novel

Ages 8-12

Rating: 5 out of 5 for Quality. 5 out of 5 for Popularity

Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal

Flora is a self-defined cynic, which makes sense considering her parent’s divorce and the strange feeling she has that her mother, author of romance novels, loves a shepherdess lamp more than she loves Flora. Flora’s life changes dramatically when she witnesses the neighbor suck up a squirrel with a powerful vacuum cleaner and Flora must save the squirrel with CPR. From the moment he wakes up from the disaster the squirrel, Ulysses, finds he has super-strength, a penchant for writing poetry, and the ability to fly.  In her efforts to encourage Ulysses to embrace his superpowers, Flora makes new friends and changes her relationship with her parents. Filled with hope, this book is funny and charming, making it an excellent award winner.

Books with comic book elements draw me in because they appeal to reluctant and younger readers so well. The premise is hilarious and the characters all strange and endearing. I find the tense relationship of Flora and her mother to be realistic of this age set, and was so glad that the book allowed the characters to grow and have a happy ending despite the bleak reality that is life.

Read -alikes

What We Found in the Sofa (and how it saved the world) by Henry Clark

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, Detectives Extraordinaire! By Polly Horvath

Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Book Discussion Points.

Why is Flora a cynic at the beginning of the book and does her cynicism last through the whole story?

Why does Ulysses get the superpowers he does? Why poetry? Is poetry writing a superpower?


Author Website http://www.katedicamillo.com/

Video interview with author



Floca, Brian. Locomotive. Atheneum/ Richard Jackson Books, 2013. 64 pages. TR $17.99 ISBN  978-1416994152

Using poetry and watercolors, this story both tells of a family traveling across the US in 1869 and the technical information about steam locomotives.


Ages 5-12

Rating: 5 out of 5 for Quality.  5 out of 5 for Popularity.

Winner of the 2014 Caldecott Medal

Silbert Honor Book

This is a stunningly illustrated poem that covers the journey across the United States by Steam Locomotive in 1869. Told in the second person, the story also explains how the train and the railroad and the terrain of the journey work and look and feel to those traveling. The family of a mother and two children are illustrated simply, cartoonish even, but all the scenery and the watercolors of the locomotives are detailed, rich, and stunning.  Even the variety of the typesetting gives the reader a feel of movement, action and the time period the book is set in. The inside covers are covered with illustrations and more technical information about the train and its journey. Despite its length, it is exciting and can hold the attention of a preschooler and an adult at the same time; it would certainly appeal to those young people for whom trains are THE THING. This is probably the most stunning train book I have come across. The cover itself is very striking, with a full color face-on view of the locomotive puffing steam and coming toward the reader, which is why I picked it up from the library when it first came in.

Read Alikes

Train by Elisha Cooper

Moonshot by Brian Floca

Building Our House by Jonathan Bean

Book Discussion Points:

  1. Why are the people traveling drawn in less detail than the illustrations of the trains and the terrain?
  2. What is something you learned about trains that you did not know before?


Author Website http://www.brianfloca.com/Locomotive.html and blog http://brianflocablog.blogspot.com/

Horn Book review 

SLJ interview

Video interview clips

Brief interview with Brooklyn Public library on process of book writing

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