Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December Book Club for Grades 3-4: Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

In December, we read Kate DiCamillo's Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures for Grades 3-4 Book Club.Cameron, Marisa, Natalie, Owen, Sean and Spencer were present. This is some of what we discussed.

What’s in a name? Which character do you think has the most fun-sounding name? Which character has a name from classic literature? Which character wants his whole name used at all times? What, if anything, can a name tell us about a character?

-William Spencer
-Tootie Tickham
-William Spiver wants his full name used at all times. He pushed his stepfather's truck into a sinkhole when the father would not call him his full name.
-I think that Ulysses sounded like some sort of toilet cleaner. And then I figured out it was a vacuum's name that became a squirrel's name.
-Flora means flowers. Flora is her dad's flower.
-Sometimes they name people Bill Carpenter because that is his profession.

The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto! is Flora’s favorite comic book. It includes special bonus comics at the back of each issue including Terrible Things Can Happen to You! and The Criminal Element Is Among Us. Throughout the story, Flora refers to many of the life skills and themes that appear in her comics. One lesson is CPR. One theme is that “impossible things happened all the time” (page 21). What other things does Flora learn from her comics? Name some of your favorite sayings or lessons from her comic books.

-Terrible things can happen to you.
-The criminal element is among us.
-The thing about shock and not knowing if you are in shock.
-When William Spiver was wearing sunglasses and he thought he had permanently lost his sight.

Let’s talk about superheroes. What makes Ulysses a superhero? Are there special requirements for being a superhero? Are there special things that all superheroes seem to have?

-Ulysses flies. He got Mr. Klaus off of Mr. Buckman's head.
-Ulysses has super strength.
-He can demolish cats.
-He can pick up vacuum cleaners with a finger.
-He can type.
-Superheroes tend to have a talent that no one else has.
-Shooting webs.
-You have to fight crime and put others above yourself.
-They all have to be able to know how to fight crime, have some sort of weapon and have to know a certain skill.

What is the funniest scene in the book for you? Describe it.

-When Ulysses vanquishes the cat, it's very funny to me. Normally, cats try to kill squirrels but this time Ulysses wins.
-When Ulysses went into Rita the waitresses hair. 
-I liked that giant donut scene with Ernie the cook going to defend Rita.
-When Phylis took the typewriter away from Ulysses.

We hear the promise “I will always turn back toward you.” It is repeated many times
throughout the story. What do you think it means?

-If you are far away, you'll stay in contact with others.

Describe the relationship between Flora and William Spiver. In what ways are they the same? In what ways are they different?

-They are different because William thinks that he's blind and Flora likes the comics that she likes. 
-William Spiver and Flora are different. William thinks that if he takes his glasses off, he will be open to the world. Flora doesn't like being called her full name.
-Flora Belle does not like being called Flora Belle and William Spiver likes his full name.
-There are a lot of differences. William Spiver acts like he's blind and is not. Flora says that he's not blind. That's technically opposite.
-Flora is a cynic and sees things negatively. William is hopeful and sees things in a negative light.

On page 216, a miracle is said to occur and William Spiver is able to see again. What do you think happens?

-I don't think he was ever blind. His dark sunglasses made him think that he was blind. When the sunglasses fall off, he is no longer blind.
-Maybe he was lying about being blind and thought people would think he is cool.
-It was not a miracle. He was playing a trick on people.
-I think it was a miracle. I don't know he would say he was blind if he wasn't.
-I think he was faking his blindness.

There are many quirky characters in the story. Whom do you like best and why?

-I like Ulysses because he's an animal.
-I like Ulysses because he can type his poems.
-I like Flora's dad the best because he's weird and awesome.
-I like William Spiver because he pretends to be blind.
-I like Ulysses the best because he knows how to fly, type, open cheese puffs, pick up heavy stuff and demolish cats.
-Ulysses was my favorite because he's cute.

What would you like to see happen next for Ulysses and Flora?

-I would like them to fight different types of crime.
-I would like Ulysses to beat up a robber.
-I want to see Flora and Ulysses fight crime in a comic book/graphic novel.
-I would like Ulysses to turn bad all of a sudden. Ulysses would then lose his power, Flora would get it and then Ulysses would become a criminal by robbing banks and stealing jewelry from jewelry stores. Then, a year later, Ulysses would become good and Flora would become bad. And they would go back and forth over time.

Rank the book:

-Unanimous decision on this book. All 4s!

For January's Book Club, the group voted to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. "A miser learns the true meaning of Christmas when three ghostly visitors review his past and foretell his future." Book Club will be held on January 7th at 3:00 p.m. Snacks are always provided. Please sign up at the Circulation Desk when you pick up your copy of the book. Thank you!

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