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Author Kate DiCamillo Shares Inspiration Behind “Flora and Ulysses”

The author and cast of the Disney+ film “Flora and Ulysses” met for a Q&A. Here’s the scoop from Kate DiCamillo, the author of “Flora and Ulysses.” She shared her personal story and involvement with the film. 

Inspiration for the Novel

DiCamillo shared the events in her life that inspired “Flora and Ulysses.” These events involved her mother’s favorite vacuum cleaner and a close encounter with a dying squirrel. 

photo credit: @disney

After her passing, DiCamillo’s mother had entrusted her with her favorite vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately, DiCamillo was allergic to the cat hair inside the vacuum. Instead of using it inside the house, DiCamillo would leave the vacuum in her garage. 

“Every time I pulled into the garage, I would see the vacuum cleaner, and it would make my heart hurt. It would make me miss my mother,” says DiCamillo. 

Later on, DiCamillo was shocked to find a dying squirrel on her porch. Not knowing what to do, DiCamillo called a friend who offered to remove the squirrel. “Get the T-shirt, get the shovel. I will come over there and whack him over the head,” DiCamillo recounts her friend saying. 

photo credit: @disney

While waiting for the friend, DiCamillo’s mind was racing, trying to think of a solution to save the squirrel. Her thoughts fixated on the “Death of a Pig” essay by E. B. White about saving a pig’s life but applying it to the squirrel. 

“I thought about ways to save the squirrel’s life and I combined it with the vacuum cleaner in the garage, and that’s the story,” says DiCamillo. 

Luckily, no squirrels were harmed. “The squirrel left when he heard my friend saying, ‘Whack him over the head with a shovel,’” says DiCamillo. 

photo credit: @disney

Blink and you miss it Cameo

For eagle-eyed viewers, DiCamillo teased that she has a cameo in the film. She did not reveal when or where her cameo takes place but said that she “worked to get that nanosecond of fame.”

DiCamillo’s Favorite Comic Book

While “Flora and Ulysses” revolves around a squirrel with superpowers, DiCamillo’s favorite comics are the non-superpowered Peanuts comic strips.

“What I grew up with and what I love is Charlie Brown and Peanuts. I actually still read a Peanuts cartoon every morning, and it shaped my whole childhood, and it still shapes my sensibility” says DiCamillo. 

photo credit: @disney

How does DiCamillo feel about the changes made for the film? 

When adapting a book into a film, not everything carries over. DiCamillo is also no stranger to film adaptations. “Because of Winn-Dixie” and “The Tale of Despereaux,” two of her other popular books, were also adapted into films.

Despite this, DiCamillo had nothing but praise for both the script and the film itself. DiCamillo describes that the film “amplifies” the themes and heart of the story in a more bombastic way than the book. 

photo credit: @disney

“The heart is even bigger and the wackiness is even bigger. Also, just the power of connection has been amplified. And so, it’s just, whatever is different is more and better” says DiCamillo. 

“Flora and Ulysses” premieres on Disney+ on Feb. 19, 2021. For more “Flora and Ulysses” coverage, check out our scoop from the film’s cast. 

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