Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

I see a bunch of you nodding before you've even read a word. Oh, yes, you loved this book. And, naturally, so did I. But, just on the off chance that there are a few remaining book addicts who haven't read the book . . . a review shall follow. And, I want you to know I stripped the bed, washed the sheets and blanket (a superfluous thing, anyway, what with it being in the 90's outside), vacuumed the floor, took out the trash, watered the plants (whereupon I was divebombed by mosquitoes; I'm itching like crazy, here) and fed the cats. See who that mother of mine says is not domestic. Ha!

Okay, so a review of sorts. The Tale of Despereaux is the tale of a tiny mouse with oversized ears and a heart of gold, a lovely princess, a kingdom-wide soup ban, one nasty rat, a sad and downtrodden peasant girl who has been clonked on the ears a few too many times, and a dark, smelly dungeon. Despereaux is the name of the tiny, sickly mouse. He's an unusual mouse who sees beauty in words, light, and music. When he speaks to the humans in the castle, the other mice decide he has gone too far and he is cast down into the smelly, rat-infested dungeon. I can't say anymore because that would be telling.

The story is so beautifully written that it's absolutely captivating, just by its cadence alone. But, DiCamillo has taken this story so far beyond simple storytelling that I feel inadequate to describe its wonders. There are numerous little tidbits about life, betrayal and heartbreak, love and hope. The Tale of Despereaux is just a lovely, lovely story and very deserving of its Newbery Medal. My youngest has read Because of Winn-Dixie, by the same author, and enjoyed it (but was unwilling to see the movie because he said it has a sad ending). So, naturally, I'll foist this one on him. Isn't he lucky to have me for a mama?

5/5 - Couldn't put it down. This one goes on the good shelves.


  1. Ohhh, I loved Despereaux! Such a long name for such a little, and unlikely, hero. I see they've shortened the title since I read it in April. Used to be The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread! (a bit of whimsical history )

  2. Booklogged,

    The longer title is on the spine of the copy of the book that I've got but, oddly, the front cover merely says, "The Tale of Despereaux." I thought that was rather interesting. Despereaux is definitely a whopper of a name for a tiny hero. I wish I had half the creativity and skill of DiCamillo. Despereaux has so many positive little messages tucked within its pages, without ignoring reality. I just loved that!

  3. Guess I need to add it on, huh!?!

  4. Joy,

    I'm not certain I understand what you mean. Add the title to your reading list? If so, defnitely. :)

  5. I can spell. DEFINITELY. I really can.

  6. YEP! That's what I meant. Sorry for the confusion.

    You made it sound so good that I may read it for my "D" author. I have another book that I really wanted to read, but the libraries around here don't carry it. ??? Anyway, this one they do! :)

  7. Oh, perfect! Glad I helped you find a substitute "D" book. :)

    I have that kind of a library, unfortunately. You have to read either mainstream fiction or . . . well, mostly mainstream fiction and some popular nonfiction from about a decade ago. I end up buying most of my books. What was your other D book?

  8. I'm reading this to my class right now. It always amazes me that EIGHT year olds love this book as much as we do. I would have suspected it was over their head. But, like all authentic literature, I'm thinking of Charlotte's Web, it doesn't seem to matter what your age is.

  9. Bellezza,

    I have a feeling the rhythm alone makes this book good for just about any age (except, maybe, wiggly toddlers - but you never know). I'm so glad you're reading to your class! My children had so many, many teachers who almost seemed antipathetic toward books. Even William's school librarian tended to plug in a video and then spend her time shouting at the kids who didn't sit perfectly still. As a child, I had teachers who read to the class and I can tell you it makes a big difference in little lives!!

  10. It was DESPERATION MOON by Ken Douglas.

    The only books I buy on a regular basis are educational reference books (by the millions actually!) and I have all of Grisham's books. It began with getting them as gifts, then I have continued with getting his new ones on my own or with gift cards. I have purchased miscellaneous books here and there (sometimes I just can't resist), but I'm really trying not to build a library. I know me and it would get out of hand. The library is my saving grace. I can still get a "fix" without spending any money! :)

    Now, I have to admit...I had a HUGE library for our kids!!! As an educator, I was all for books. Whatever they wanted through book orders...we got! :) They are all packed away now, but it'll be so much fun when they can be unpack for grandkids!

  11. Joy,

    I hadn't heard of Desperation Moon; I like the title.

    I have hundreds of childrens books, although I did pass some on to my nieces and nephews and donated some when my kids grew out of them. They picked out their special favorites to keep if they have their own children, one day. One thing we need to go through is the Usborne books. I sold them for a while and we have about 300. Yeeks.

    Unlike you, I did set out to build a personal library, but partly because our library here is really pretty awful. I should still use it more, though. :)

  12. Just to clarify...my kids kept their "favorites" (whether massive series or singles) in their room and they still have them. All the rest are packed and stored in our storage room.

    We have a very wide hallway upstairs by their rooms, so we placed bookshelves there when they were young. It was a fabulous library that had very easy access. Oh wow...it just hit me how much I miss that. (sniff-sniff)

  13. I have to read this book. One of these days... I have read Because of Winn Dixie, though. :)

  14. Oh, poor Joy!

    Maybe you need some comfort bookshelves. ;)

  15. Kailana,

    It took me quite a while to get around to reading Despereaux, but it was worth the wait. :)


Thank you for visiting my blog! I use comment moderation because apparently my blog is a spam magnet. Don't worry. If you're not a robot, your comment will eventually show up and I will respond, with a few exceptions. If a comment smacks of advertising, contains a dubious link or is offensive, it will be deleted. I love to hear from real people! I'm a really chatty gal and I love your comments!