DiCamillo’s 2004 Newbery Medal-winning fairy tale, wittily subtitled ‘the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread’, is a...more
DiCamillo’s 2004 Newbery Medal-winning fairy tale, wittily subtitled ‘the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread’, is a huge change of direction for this successful American children’s author. Instead of another tale of real life, as seen in Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tiger Rising, DiCamillo brings her same style of delicate, literary simplicity to bear on a young fantasy that will be equally enduring and that is already equally lauded. An unnamed narrator tells the story of a mouse called Despereaux Tilling. He is a special mouse but few believe it at his time of birth. The sickly sole survivor of a large litter, Despereaux has large ears, a small stature and his eyes open way too soon. It’s not natural! He can also read and hear sounds that no one else can hear--two very dangerous talents for a castle mouse like him. He is expected to die quickly--but confounds everyone when he fails to do so. The novel is split into four parts, each ‘book’ introducing different characters, and then intertwining them all together in a story that, though not told at breakneck speed, is quirky and unforgettable. After Despereaux’s sad story, in which he falls deeply in love with the human Princess Pea and is greatly punished for his crime, we also meet Roscuro--a conniving rat whose love of light and soup get him in deep trouble too. And then there’s Miggery Sow, a dim-witted peasant girl sold by her father for a red tablecloth, a hen and some cigarettes. Despite her hard life she has a wonderful dream to become a princess. The writing is carefully crafted and the themes that are tackled are reassuringly familiar. Featuring Timothy Basil Ering’s stunning illustrations, The Tale of Despereaux is an old-fashioned adventure that is quite timeless. (Age 8 and over) --John McLay less
This is a really fun book to read aloud. My daughter and I are taking turns reading chapters from it at bedtime and boy are we having fun! I love the character sketches and the way Dicamillo speaks directly to "Dear Reader" . . . Brilliant in its simplicity!
I started reading this to my daughter. After getting through 11 chapters she fell asleep and I had to keep reading 'til I was finished because it was such a wonderful tale. You just fall in love with that little mouse!
I never adored a book (child. lit.) this much in my life. I love this book. It is very dear and sentimental to me. Easy but enjoyable read. Great for reading aloud to your children or classroom. My students loved it!