A delightful book, lovingly written, with deceptively subtle illustrations by Timothy Ering that reveal surprising detail the harder one looks. A tale of a weird little mouse, a fairy-tale princess, a rather-not-be rat and a deaf serving girl whose paths cross in a web of love, bravery, intrigue and perfidy.
This is a gorgeous book for kids, aimed specifically at them with its large print, basic vocabulary, short chapters and direct contact with the reader. Nevertheless, it manages to captivate the older audience as well, making it a book that an adult enjoys reading to kids (and alone, if truth were told!).
Four 'books' are joined together by a red thread, so the story flows well, the believable characters have substance, and there is enough cliff-hanging drama to keep the smallest child pestering one for the next session.
Forget that stuff about it being 'too horrible' - kids love being frightened just a little.
I urge every parent to buy this for their children.*****
This is a wonderful, moving, perfectly enchanting novel for children of all ages, and it more than lives up to the spirit of the John Newberry Medal it received as the year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." I had read a number of good things about The Tale of Despereaux, and the book actually exceeded my high expectations. Not only does Kate DiCamillo give us a moving, gripping story with wonderful characters; she teaches us a number of important lessons about life in the process. A similar set of circumstances leads several individuals down completely different yet converging roads in life, and this serves to illustrate the important fact that all of our actions and decisions have consequences for ourselves as well those around us. At the same time, DiCamillo reinforces the importance of love, forgiveness, imagination, determination, etc., in each of our lives.
Despereaux could be called the mouse that lived; the only survivor of his mother's last litter, he was born (in a castle) with large ears and with his eyes open; thus, from the very start, he was made fun of and constantly told there was something wrong with him. Truly, he was no ordinary mouse; light fascinated him, music stirred his soul, and a fairy tale he read (rather than gnaw on the pages) inspired his dreams. Drawn by the sound of music one day, he disregards the established rules of mice by not only approaching the king and his little girl but actually speaking to them. Despereaux falls madly in love with the princess, but his actions lead the mice council to send him to the dungeon - to the rats. These dungeon rats are mean and nasty, and they eat any mouse that is sent down to their domain. One, however, is not content to be a rat; Roscuro yearns to escape the darkness and dwell in the light - ridiculed by his rat buddies for such silly dreams, he nevertheless makes his way up and into the castle. Unfortunately, his appearance sets in motion a tragedy that hangs heavily over the rest of the story - embittered by the experience, Roscuro returns to the dungeon and begins making plans for revenge. Then you have Miggery Sow, the most tragic character of all. At six years old, her mother died, and her father soon sold her for a hen, a red tablecloth, and some cigarettes. Her "uncle" clouts her ears constantly for her mistakes, leaving her with cauliflower ears that she can barely hear out of. No one has ever cared about her or her desires. All three of these fascinating characters are destined to come together in the final section of this remarkable little novel.
It's an inspiring story indeed, and Despereaux is a hero in every sense of the word. Not only must he survive his banishment to the rat-infested dungeon, he must -under almost impossible circumstances - try to rescue the princess he loves so dearly. Love, honor, determination, and heroism (and soup) give him strength, but even still he is only a little two-ounce mouse. There are a number of lessons in Despereaux's tale, not the least of which is the idea that even the smallest of individuals can be heroic and change people's lives. Roscuro represents the pain and misery that inevitably comes from reacting to disappointment in a negative fashion, while poor Miggery Sow is a most telling victim of physical and emotional abuse. Yet forgiveness is always possible, and that is a striking element of this plot. The whole book is simply enchanting and inspirational. DiCamillo often steps outside of the narrative to address the reader directly, offering words of encouragement or warning of unpleasant things ahead, and I thought this added a great deal of charm to an already charming book. This is a story you will delight in reading again and again.
on 18 January 2006
This books is amongst my top 5 children's books ever! Working in a library I get to see an awful lot of books but this one stands out from the rest. If you have a child between the ages of 2 and 12 this is perfect. It's a "lying down" book - perfect for cold nights, tucked up in bed and being read aloud.
Magical, humourous with wonderful illustrations - a very special book.
PLEASE buy it...or even better borrow it from your local library!
on 16 January 2009
I do not know how I came across this book, perhaps it was from a flyer in my newspaper.
It is a wonderful book for reading out aloud to children.
I started to read it to the two children of my neighbour.
They are a girl of 10 and a boy of 12.
Well I just cannot stop them rushing round for the next chapter.
They are fascinated by it and they keep trying to forecast what will happen in the next chapter.
Those people who have criticized the Dear Reader approach
are wrong because it is a lovely way of involving the children when you are reading to them.
My husband Peter Pan is as fascinated by it just as much as the children are. I have to hide it from him so that he cannot read ahead of our story sessions.
If any other reader who has read and loved this book can tell me of others I might like to buy with the intention of reading them out aloud , then please tell me .
This is the best children's story I've read for a long long time! I love stories about animals, and I love stories about mice. Living in the country, it is not difficult for me to imagine little animals such as this as having little personalities with almost human traits! The illustrations - though somewhat faint and slightly 'misty' are a magic all their own - and quite delightful, and very interesting too when you look more closely! This is a truly wonderful book, and I don't often re-read novels, but I feel certain that before long I shall be SO wanting re-read this one!
This book has a good number of pages - but the writing is large, and the chapters very short which makes for lovely convenient breaks which I like - but be warned; your breaks shall not be very long! I found myself saying `just one more chapter' to myself before I would put it aside for any reasonable length of time! In fact, I was so delighted with this novel, I immediately went to look on Amazon, and purchased another by this same author! Now; you will understand the importance in this for me, when I say that I NEVER do this as a rule - no matter how good the book, and so this really must say something about this fabulous read!
The story is tremendously imaginative and full of atmosphere - little mice scuttling along skirting boards and inside wall crevices - rats in dungeons and so on, and whilst I do agree (to a point) about the little distractions when the author intervenes and talks as to the reader can be a little irritant (for those of you who have complained in their reviews about it) I too have to confess at suffering the same feeling initially, and though it did throw me just a little at the outset, I soon became used to it (quite more than I thought I would) and actually enjoyed that side of it eventually! After all; it's a long long time since anyone read me a story, and so I viewed it that way, and felt after all it was a nice and unique touch from this great children's writer, which made the whole read quite different and a whole new experience for me! I just LOVED the writer's touch when not only did she state that `Despereaux's' mother was a French mouse - but she went on to explain how a French mouse came to be in England! I thought that bit was quite enchanting and lovely!
Absolutely delightful, and I can well imagine many children being totally enthralled and immersed in the adventures of little `Despereaux' - the lovely `shrewish', yet brave little mouse!
LOVED IT - and for the first time in my life, it had me hoping there would be a second book! (normally I don't entertain them) Must say something!
Recommended for ANY age group!
on 26 August 2012
This book is cute, shorty and snappy. It's really not my usual type of book and I'm definitely not the age group this book is directed at! Still, it was enjoyable nevertheless. And how can you not love this cute little mouse...?
"He was ridiculously small. His ears were obscenely large. He had been born with his eyes open. And he was sickly. He coughed and sneezed so often that he carried a handkerchief in one paw at all times. He ran temperatures. He fainted at loud noises. Most alarming of all, he showed no interest in the things a mouse should show interest in."
I haven't actually watched the film, but reading the book makes me want to definitely pick up the film.
The book is hard to sum up in words. There are lots of cure pictures dotted through the book to keep your interested engaged, and I'd say it would be nice to sit down with young children and read to them or have them read so their interest can be maintained by the pictures. I have to say, it's been a very long time since I read a book that had pictures in and it was a pleasant experience.
The book is broken down into four parts, for the last part and the first part, this book probably borders more of the five star rating, whilst the middle two parts were more of a three to two stars. I just didn't enjoy them as much.
Book The First
A Mouse is Born
The first part and the last part follow Despereaux more and I find him so inexplicably cute that I couldn't help but smile. And I felt like part four had a much more action packed scene with the drawing to the close of this tale which engaged my attention enough.
Book the Fourth
Recalled to the Light
Part Three I abhorred the most.
Book The Third
The Tale of Miggery Sow
I was incredibly sick of hearing about Miggery and her personality and character really just annoyed me. She was stupid and I really couldn't feel hardly any sympathy for her even though she'd had a bad life, I just didn't find her to be a likeable character. That would probably be my only part of the tale that I didn't enjoy and couldn't stomach it.
Overall, I found the novel to be enjoyable and cute. It's a quick read at around 200 pages with pictures and I think if you like animals and children's fantasy then you'll probably like this book!