Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
2006 Candlewick Press

It is my firm rule that I read the book before I see the movie. Most times it turns out that I love the book and subsequently hate the movie because it differs too much from the book. That said, I have NOT seen the movie version of The Tale of Despereaux and I am scared to see the movie because I adore this book! It was a great young adults book. The conversational tone was fun and used in an effective way.

The book is about an unusual mouse who doesn’t fit into his mouse community, a wannabe princess with more brawn than brains and a vengeful rat. The mouse, our hero Desperaux, is nothing like his peers and finds himself ostracized by his family and friends. But he also finds himself with a quest to save the Princess Pea, the love of his life, and arch enemy of the rat Roscuro.

This book is a great moral tale that teaches without being preachy. The lesson is, be nice to the different kid, you can never be sure what they will grow up to be. I bet the kids who grew up with Bill Gates wish they had been nicer to him when he was younger. While Desperaux is small, with big ears and an unusual amount of fear Desperaux is also an emotional animal who loves hard and true. Is there a better quality for a knight?

Maybe, I will have to revise my book buying ban and purchase this for my nephews.

Amazon.com Review

Kate DiCamillo, author of the Newbery Honor book Because of Winn-Dixie, spins a tidy tale of mice and men where she explores the "powerful, wonderful, and ridiculous" nature of love, hope, and forgiveness. Her old-fashioned, somewhat dark story, narrated "Dear Reader"-style, begins "within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse." Despereaux Tilling, the new baby mouse, is different from all other mice. Sadly, the romantic, unmouselike spirit that leads the unusually tiny, large-eared mouse to the foot of the human king and the beautiful Princess Pea ultimately causes him to be banished by his own father to the foul, rat-filled dungeon.
The first book of four tells Despereaux's sad story, where he falls deeply in love with Princess Pea and meets his cruel fate. The second book introduces another creature who differs from his peers--Chiaroscuro, a rat who instead of loving the darkness of his home in the dungeon, loves the light so much he ends up in the castle& in the queen's soup. The third book describes young Miggery Sow, a girl who has been "clouted" so many times that she has cauliflower ears. Still, all the slow-witted, hard-of-hearing Mig dreams of is wearing the crown of Princess Pea. The fourth book returns to the dungeon-bound Despereaux and connects the lives of mouse, rat, girl, and princess in a dramatic denouement.
Children whose hopes and dreams burn secretly within their hearts will relate to this cast of outsiders who desire what is said to be out of their reach and dare to break "never-to-be-broken rules of conduct." Timothy Basil Ering's pencil illustrations are stunning, reflecting DiCamillo's extensive light and darkness imagery as well as the sweet, fragile nature of the tiny mouse hero who lives happily ever after. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to the
Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3 Up-A charming story of unlikely heroes whose destinies entwine to bring about a joyful resolution. Foremost is Despereaux, a diminutive mouse who, as depicted in Ering's pencil drawings, is one of the most endearing of his ilk ever to appear in children's books. His mother, who is French, declares him to be "such the disappointment" at his birth and the rest of his family seems to agree that he is very odd: his ears are too big and his eyes open far too soon and they all expect him to die quickly. Of course, he doesn't. Then there is the human Princess Pea, with whom Despereaux falls deeply (one might say desperately) in love. She appreciates him despite her father's prejudice against rodents. Next is Roscuro, a rat with an uncharacteristic love of light and soup. Both these predilections get him into trouble. And finally, there is Miggery Sow, a peasant girl so dim that she believes she can become a princess. With a masterful hand, DiCamillo weaves four story lines together in a witty, suspenseful narrative that begs to be read aloud. In her authorial asides, she hearkens back to literary traditions as old as those used by Henry Fielding. In her observations of the political machinations and follies of rodent and human societies, she reminds adult readers of George Orwell. But the unpredictable twists of plot, the fanciful characterizations, and the sweetness of tone are DiCamillo's own. This expanded fairy tale is entertaining, heartening, and, above all, great fun.Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NYCopyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition

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