Monday, June 4, 2007

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Library Binding edition (August 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763617229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763617226
  • List Price: $17.99
  • I finished this book on June 3
My stars, I loved this! I haven't doled out the seal of approval in a while, so this is momentous. I was just waiting for something like this to come along. This is another one of those that I picked up and read in one sitting before bed. It was like a sweet and satisfying cup of tea with cookies (I'm very into cookies). The subtitle of this book is Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread which I love. And this cuteness has also won a Newbery Medal, which made me assume that it would be sad and possibly feature the gratutious death of one or more characters (possibly a child) but, awesomely, it was not like that at all. It was cute and sweet.
See, Despereaux is a tiny mouse, really tiny, with these great big ears, who lives in a castle. He doesn't want to be like other mice, he's not interested in hunting for crumbs, or scurrying, or even nibbling paper. In fact, he is much more inclined to read the romantic tales in the library than to eat them. So, of course, I want to snorgle Despereaux, despite the fact that he's a fictional mouse. Also, I love talking animals. But that's the problem, Despereaux talks to the beautiful Princess Pea, worse, he falls in love with her. This sets all the other little meeces' knickers into a twist and they banish tiny Despereaux to the dungeon to be eaten by rats (oh no!) From there, the story splits off and introduces us to a few different characters who all play a part in Despereaux's tale.
My favorite scene is where Despereaux is trying to tell the king something and he won't listen. The king basically puts his hands over his head and says "Nah nah, I can't hear you..." like a child, which I found hilarious. Not to mention that he has outlawed soup and rats, which, you know...makes perfect sense and is not at all crazy.
Another great part of the story is DiCamillo's voice. She talks to the reader, and even encourages the reader to go look up words, which I think is fantastic (I will not tell a lie, my dears, I had to look up a word). There are also sweet illustrations of the tiny mouse, the mean rats and the beautiful Princess Pea done by Timothy Ering. Anywho, the book was great, and it's one of mine for the challenge. I will definitely be reading more of Ms. Camillo's work in the future.


Quixotic said...

It's a lovely book isn't it? I read this one last year and adored it. Ended up giving it to a few people for Christmas!

I have found Kate DiCamillo's work to be generally very engaging and charming. Hope you enjoy her other books!

Framed said...

So glad you liked this book. I'll be reading it for the Newbery Challenge because I've heard so much about it.

Carl V. said...

A wonderful, wonderful book. I highly recommend The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, review here:

It to is an amazingly written, inspiring tale by DiCamillo. She is fantastic.

kim said...

Sounds a bit like Stuart Little meets Jonathon Livingston Seagull. Thanks for sharing :)

Darla D said...

I loved this book, too! In fact, after I read it we were taking a long car trip, so I picked up the audio version and we all listened to it together. It was an excellent read-aloud, and the reader did wonderful voices for the different characters, especially the rats, who talked a bit like mafia dons. We all enjoyed it, husband and 5- and 7-year-olds. I highly recommend the audio version of this, especially for people who might not otherwise have a chance to read it.