The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread

by Kate DiCamillo and Timothy Basil Ering

This funny, original story brings four different strands into a narrative whole,... read more

This funny, original story brings four different strands into a narrative whole, with well-developed fairytale characters. There’s Despereaux, the heroic young mouse who would rather read books than gnaw them; Chiaroscuro, a rat living in a dark dungeon, who aspires to a life filled with light; Miggery Sow, a serving girl who longs to be a princess; and, of course, the princess herself, who looks and acts just like the princesses in Despereaux’s beloved book of fairytales. The ways in which all these characters’ lives intersect is the basis for a multilayered story that deftly draws on multiple literary traditions. The absurd idealism and romantic chivalry of Despereaux, for example, suggest that he may be a direct descendant of Don Quixote. DiCamillo’s use of the intrusive narrator who directly addresses the reader harkens back to Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones . The story is at once sophisticated and wholly accessible to children, particularly as a read-aloud. Beautiful book design and numerous black-and-white line drawings add to the old-fashioned feel of the satisfying story. Honor Book, CCBC Newbery Award Discussion (Ages 7–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

show less