Sunday, June 01, 2008

'The Tale of Despereaux'

by Kate DiCamillo

Fiction/Fantasy/kidlit, 2003
Candlewick Press, trade pb, 257 p.
Illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
WINNER of the Newbery Medal, 2004
Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives. And what happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.
What a cute story! Little Despereaux, different from the other mice for his love of reading and music, is a very brave little mouse on a very dangerous quest. It is perhaps at its heart a simple story of hope and forgiveness, but it’s so nicely told. Because of the narrative style, in which the author often addresses the reader directly, this would be a great book to read aloud. And the book itself was a joy to hold. I personally love those rough-cut edges and the illustrations were wonderful, really adding to the story. A story to make you smile. Recommended for kids and kids-at-heart.
Despereaux waited until she was gone, and then he reached out and, with one paw, touched the lovely words. Once upon a time.
Despereaux also reminded me of Remy the rat in Ratatouille. That was such a cute movie! And speaking of animated movies, I didn’t know (until just now) that The Tale of Despereaux is being made into one! With Emma Watson as Princess Pea, Matthew Broderick as the voice of Despereaux, Dustin Hoffman as the voice of Roscuro and so on. I don’t watch many animated movies. Before seeing Ratatouille a few months ago, I can’t remember the last time I watched one, but I may be tempted to see this one.

My Rating: 3.5/5
(#24 for 2008, Book Awards Challenge #10, Once Upon a Time II Challenge #5)

If you've read and reviewed this title, let me know and I'll add a link to your review here.


  1. It seems like last year so many people read and reviewed this book and I am really looking forward to getting around to it, thanks for the reminder. I must see Ratatouille...

  2. This is one of my favourite childrens books ever! Such a beautiful story with dastardly bad guys and gorgeous illustrations! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Rhinoa- It's a really fun, quick read. Hope you enjoy it.

    mariel- It's a great children's story and the illustrations are wonderful. I'm tempted by the special edition hardcover with colour illustrations.

  4. This reminds me a little of Beverly Cleary's Ralph S. Mouse. I loved those books as a child.

    I still haven't seen Ratatouille. I've heard great things about it and so I imagine I will rent it one day.

  5. Literary Feline- I'm not familiar with the Beverly Cleary books but they sound fun.
    We rented Ratataouille a few months ago. Even my husband really enjoyed it and he is usually never interested in animation. Course we loved that it was set in Paris. :)

  6. I loved Despereaux! I might have to see that one on film. We haven't seen Ratatouille, but I remember thinking it sounded fun, when I saw the previews. When it was in theaters, kiddo wasn't interested, so we went to something else (probably Transformers).

  7. Nancy- Despereaux is so cute. I rarely go to the cinema but I think I'll have to look for it on DVD when it comes out.

  8. I really liked this book and will see the movie when it comes out. The book plays out pretty dark, I wonder how that will translate onto film.

  9. Natasha- It is pretty dark, I hope they don't make the film too cute and happy.

  10. It is a wonderful book, isn't it? I hope the upcoming film version is as delightful as the book. If you haven't read it I suggest The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by DiCamillo. It too is a wonderfully charming tale.

  11. Carl- This was my first by DiCamillo but I'm sure it won't be my last. Thanks for the recommendation.

  12. I adored this book!.. I am betting you would enjoy her book of the Miraculous Journey of Edward Trulane!!

  13. Deslily- Another vote for The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I think that may have to be the next book of hers that I get. :)


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