Caroline Davis

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

In Books on February 6, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Summary: Despereaux is a small mouse with a big heart.  The other mice think he is strange because he loves beautiful things like stained glass windows and music instead of focusing on finding food to eat.  When Despereaux meets the Princess Pea, he falls in love with her – just like the brave knights and fair ladies from his favorite book.  After a revenge-seeking rat and a foolish servant girl kidnap the princess and take her to the dungeon, can Despereaux find a way to rescue her?

Highlights: This sweet story has all the right elements for a traditional fairy tale, but it rises above the usual fare because of DiCamillo’s handling of her characters.  Each of the main players has a back story that gives them dimension and explains the motivations behind their actions.  Even the rat with a dastardly plan becomes sympathetic, and some of the light characters have spots of darkness within them.  It is obvious that DiCamillo loves her characters, and the reader is invited to love them as well.  This book would be excellent for the younger set of “tweens,” perhaps particularly those who are developing their reading skills.  The book is very engaging (the narrator often speaks directly to the “reader”), and has a smattering of vocabulary building words – some of which I needed to look up!  Most importantly, the story is heart-warming, often humorous, and a delight to read.  Winner of the 2004 Newbery Medal.

Extras:

Kate DiCamillo’s Official Website

Interview with Kate DiCamillo (PBS)

Interview with Kate DiCamillo (Scholastic)

Other Reviews:

@ Brimful Curiosities

@ Books Love Me

@ Out of the Blue

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