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The Tale Of Despereaux

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A brave mouse, a covetous rat, a wishful serving girl, and a princess named Pea come together in Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Medal–winning tale. 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 A brave mouse, a covetous rat, a wishful serving girl, and a princess named Pea come together in Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Medal–winning tale. 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. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.


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A brave mouse, a covetous rat, a wishful serving girl, and a princess named Pea come together in Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Medal–winning tale. 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 A brave mouse, a covetous rat, a wishful serving girl, and a princess named Pea come together in Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Medal–winning tale. 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. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.

30 review for The Tale Of Despereaux

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mischenko

    From the moment Despereaux the mouse was born, everyone knew he was different. Born extremely small with strange ears and the only survivor of the litter, his parents weren't sure if he could stay alive. As time goes on, Despereaux becomes quite a curious little critter and begins to question the world around him. He discovers a love for music and falls in love with a lovely princess named Pea. The issue is that Despereaux has gone against the rules put forth by the mouse council by showing hims From the moment Despereaux the mouse was born, everyone knew he was different. Born extremely small with strange ears and the only survivor of the litter, his parents weren't sure if he could stay alive. As time goes on, Despereaux becomes quite a curious little critter and begins to question the world around him. He discovers a love for music and falls in love with a lovely princess named Pea. The issue is that Despereaux has gone against the rules put forth by the mouse council by showing himself to the princess, and now he must deal with the consequences by spending time in the dark dungeon below the castle. He's been ordered by the mouse council, including his father, and there's no turning back. He considered fainting. He deemed it the only reasonable response to the situation in which he found himself, but then he remembered the words of the threadmaster: honor, courtesy, devotion, and bravery. "I will be brave," thought Despereaux. "I will try to be brave like a knight in shining armor. I will be brave for Princess Pea."  The book is told in four parts and the entire book setting takes place at the castle in the kingdom of Dor. The whole book is narrated by an omniscient narrator whom isn't related to the story, but remains the storyteller throughout. The first part begins with Despereaux and his family. The second covers a rat named Chiaroscuro (Roscuro) who is very confused and on the verge of becoming evil. The third book introduces a new character named Miggery Sow, a young girl who was abandoned by her father and wants nothing more than to become a princess just like Pea. The fourth and last part of the book is when all of these characters come together for the climax of the story and I have to say that their fate is never predictable. Other characters include: King Phillip (Pea's father-ruler of Dor), a jailer, a cook, and an evil rat in the dungeon named Botticelli. We honestly loved all of the characters. Each one had their own story and were well-developed. Despereaux was hands down my favorite character. Regardless of his size, he's very hopeful and courageous. His fear is always present, but his perseverance prevails. Miggery Sow was my son's favorite and she was likable with her eventual change of heart. We loved her language and her repeated use of the word "Gor!". My daughter's favorite character was Roscuro because you're never totally sure who's side he's going to take. We found the story charming as it reads like a fairy tale. I was a little nervous once I realized that the book was told in separate parts. You get so invested in the first part and can't wait to find out what will unfold, and then there's the switch to a new book with new characters. I thought that format might derail us, but it didn't. We appreciated the sketched illustrations which enhance the story and bring the characters to life. There's a lot going on between characters and the action makes this a real page-turner. There were twists we didn't see coming and there was no telling what direction the story would take. I always love the themes in Kate DiCamillo's books and this story includes themes of love, revenge, courage, family and forgiveness. Overall, Kate DiCamillo has woven another wonderful story for children that even adults can enjoy. I'm so glad I purchased this for our home library because I know it's one that we'll reread in the future! 5*****

  2. 4 out of 5

    Claire Greene

    I picked this book up on a whim in the Barnes & Noble because I liked the look of the cover and the jagged edges of the paper that gave it a "classic" feel. I was looking for a new bedtime book to read to my children - 2 and 6 at the time. We like to read a bigger book, one chapter each night - for bedtime stories. I read the description and thought it sounded like a good idea so I went ahead and bought it (which is REALLY unusual for me - I can be a cheapskate!) It is by far some of the bes I picked this book up on a whim in the Barnes & Noble because I liked the look of the cover and the jagged edges of the paper that gave it a "classic" feel. I was looking for a new bedtime book to read to my children - 2 and 6 at the time. We like to read a bigger book, one chapter each night - for bedtime stories. I read the description and thought it sounded like a good idea so I went ahead and bought it (which is REALLY unusual for me - I can be a cheapskate!) It is by far some of the best money I have ever spent. The book is really that good. While technically a children's story, I could have read this as an adult before I had kids and loved the book just as much - it is a story that is so beautiful, classic and timeless. The thing I think I love the most about her writing style is that she does NOT dumb anything down. Not the language, characters, plot, theme or anything. The style is like a story teller telling you the story, with some asides and speaking to the reader. Which added so much to the story. The book is paced perfectly (there were many nights we all wanted to just keep reading and reading!), and the chapters are perfect breaking points (I would not be surprised at all to find out that she purposefully chose the chapter breaks with nightly reading in mind - there is a wonder cliff hanger feel to each chapter ending. Every night my son would look at me with big eyes and say - I wonder what is going to happen next??!!) The themes are very complex, but everything is understandable even to young children (my 2 year old daughter was able to follow along without too much difficulty - but with a lot of word definitions!) I liked that it dealt with such big themes like duty and love and heartache and redemption and the reality of the world around you. (ie certain characters are not evil but mean, sometimes people do stupid things that you can't fix, etc.) I could go on all day about things that I loved and scenes that were so wonderful i can still see them in my head. We have read this as a family for bedtime stories 3 times now!! And given the chapter a night pace and the size of the book, that is no small feat! This is a book that I will save and give to my grandchildren. I can't recommend it enough!! Also check out The Journey of Edward Tulane - we loved Despereaux more, but it is a very close call. That book is very similar and also wonderful.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo The adventures of a mouse named Despereaux Tilling, as he sets out on his quest to rescue a beautiful human princess from the rats. The novel is divided into four "books" and ends with a coda. Each "book" tells the story from a different character's or group of characters' perspective: Despereaux, Roscuro, Miggery Sow, and finally all of them combined. عنوانها: موش کوچولو؛ ماجرای دسپرو؛ قصه ی دسپروکس؛ دسپروکس؛ نویسنده: کیت دی کامیلو؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز د The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo The adventures of a mouse named Despereaux Tilling, as he sets out on his quest to rescue a beautiful human princess from the rats. The novel is divided into four "books" and ends with a coda. Each "book" tells the story from a different character's or group of characters' perspective: Despereaux, Roscuro, Miggery Sow, and finally all of them combined. عنوانها: موش کوچولو؛ ماجرای دسپرو؛ قصه ی دسپروکس؛ دسپروکس؛ نویسنده: کیت دی کامیلو؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم ماه ژانویه سال 2005 میلادی عنوان: موش کوچولو؛ نویسنده: کیت دی کامیلو؛ مترجم: حسین ابراهیمی (الوند)؛ ویراستار: فرزانه کریمی؛ تهران، افق، 1383، در 286 ص؛ فروست: رمان نوجوانان؛ شابک: 9789643691516؛ چاپ بعدی 1395؛ موضوع: داستانهای کودکان - افسانه های پریان - داستان موشها - سده 21 م عنوان: ماجرای دسپرو؛ نویسنده: کیت دی کامیلو؛ مترجم: سپیده خلیلی؛ تهران، تولد، 1388؛ در 232 ص؛ شابک: 9786005503173؛ عنوان: قصه ی دسپروکس؛ نویسنده: کیت دی کامیلو؛ مترجم: لیلا شیرزاد؛ تهران، قلم کیکیا، 1389؛ در 176 ص؛ شابک: 9789649549200؛ عنوان: دسپروکس؛ نویسنده: کیت دی کامیلو؛ مترجم: صونا جلیل نژاد حلاجیان؛ اصفهان، یارمانا، 1393؛ در 253 ص؛ شابک: 9786009508662؛ آیا کس باور میکند که موش کوچولویی عاشق شاهزاده خانمی شود؟ این رمان ماجرای رنجهای همین دسپرو موش عاشق است. ماجرای ایستادگی او در برابر سختیها، نارواییها، و تبعید، و تهدید. رمان ماجرای سفر موش کوچولو، و دوستانش، به سیاهچال ترسناک، در قلعه ای پر زرق و برق است، که شاهزاده خانم آنجا زندگی میکند. اما در این سفر چه بر سر آنها خواهد آمد، و این عشق چه سرانجامی خواهد داشت؟ ... ا. شربیانی

  4. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    OK, so now that I've thought about what I really think about this book, I'm changing my rating from 3 stars to 2 stars. There was more that I didn't like than I liked. After hearing a lot good reports about this book, I think I was expecting something different. I liked the idea of the light versus dark. I liked the unlikely friendship between the mouse and the princess. I liked the forgiveness. And I liked that it ended up "happily ever after", for the most part. I started out reading this book OK, so now that I've thought about what I really think about this book, I'm changing my rating from 3 stars to 2 stars. There was more that I didn't like than I liked. After hearing a lot good reports about this book, I think I was expecting something different. I liked the idea of the light versus dark. I liked the unlikely friendship between the mouse and the princess. I liked the forgiveness. And I liked that it ended up "happily ever after", for the most part. I started out reading this book aloud to my boys, but I stopped reading to them after the first rat chapter and finished the book myself, then gave them the condensed version, picking up with the actual reading at the very end of the book. They were disturbed (and so was I) by the unfeeling evil of the rats. I felt even worse about the constant ear boxing and degredation of Miggery Sow. I didn't go for another princess story without a mom. Just like all the Disney movies - Mom is deceased and Dad is oblivious. And what about the mouse family? Yikes! I didn't like that the darkness in the story seemed to outweigh the light. The rat and Miggery Sow chapters were simply unpleasant. The lack of positive family feelings was sad. And what is this about Miggery Sow and a big kitchen knife? Hmm. I guess I was anticipating more light. More love. More happy family feelings. I realize that the negative was essential to make the contrast between light and dark, but for me, there was just too much dark and not enough light. Especially for a prize winning book geared for young people.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    I remember reading books like this or having them read to me as a kid. It was always a frustrating experience, because I never liked when the author would stop the story in order to go back over something. "Yeah, I got it the first time," I would think to myself. Learning, teaching and making sure the kids get it is important, but so is keeping them engaged. The story itself is only okay. It's nothing terribly exciting and honestly not a lot happens. There's an unusual mouse and he wishes to sav I remember reading books like this or having them read to me as a kid. It was always a frustrating experience, because I never liked when the author would stop the story in order to go back over something. "Yeah, I got it the first time," I would think to myself. Learning, teaching and making sure the kids get it is important, but so is keeping them engaged. The story itself is only okay. It's nothing terribly exciting and honestly not a lot happens. There's an unusual mouse and he wishes to save the day. Scenes are small in scope and the action is minimal. Midway through another issue cropped up. Where did Despereaux go? He just disappears for nearly half the book! And right in the middle! You can't title a book The Tale of Despereaux and not have a Despereaux in it for half the bloody thing! I read this to see if it would be good to read to my niece. I will not be reading this to her. If I don't have patience for it, there's no way in hell she will!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Absolutely enchanting. Full of compassion, sweetness and dreamers, with exquisite word choice and delicate rhythms. The narrator's voice is like a comforting but sharply intelligent grandmother, pushing you to both see and feel with the best of yourself. I started to read this this this morning for work purposes, I finished it because I couldn't put it down.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Apokripos

    Seeing the Light (A Book Review of Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Desperaux) Despereaux Tilling is the most unusual mouse you’lll likely meet. Conspicously small with considerable large ears, he has always been seen as different, an outsider among his own — a mouse drawn to music, fascinated with stories, and breaks the strict rule of their kind by falling in love with a human, the Princess Pea. Roscuro leads a normal, rotten rat life in the dungeon, his is a world of utter darkness. Until one day, w Seeing the Light (A Book Review of Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Desperaux) Despereaux Tilling is the most unusual mouse you’lll likely meet. Conspicously small with considerable large ears, he has always been seen as different, an outsider among his own — a mouse drawn to music, fascinated with stories, and breaks the strict rule of their kind by falling in love with a human, the Princess Pea. Roscuro leads a normal, rotten rat life in the dungeon, his is a world of utter darkness. Until one day, when a match was lit in front of his face and he ventures upstairs in the castle, he began to crave nothing but the color and light that he is denied, and and so vows to make others miserable, plunging them to the gloom which he is subjected. Miggery Sow, “named after his fahter’s favorite prize-winning pig,” lost her mother when she was young. Her father abandoned and sold her away to an old man who boxed the girl’s ear until she became hard of hearing. Finally, on a fateful stroke of fortune, she came to the castle where she proved to be a slow-witted servant. But Mig has aspirations: she has seen the Princess and wants to become her. These unique assortment of characters will set out to an adventure and stumble into each others lives in Kate DiCamillo’s 2004 Newbery award-winning novel, The Tale of Despereaux. For a long time I’ve looking for a children’s book that I will flat out love and this book has got to be it! Beautifully told by a narrator that directly speaks to the reader, it has a delicate magic about it that holds the yours attention from start to finish, spellbound by the unfolding story page after page, seize by its peculiar storyline that jumps backwards and forwards into certain events in the tale that leaves you anticipating for what’s going to happen next. Kate DiCamillo’s voice,trimmed with wit and wisdom, is wildly authorative — asking us questions; showing us a thing or two about what is disappointment, grief, prejudice, and forgiveness; sometimes instructing the reader to look up a particular word in the dictionary and pointing us about the consequences of certain actions — while at the same over the top, funny, and confiding yet in a manner that doesn’t feel intrusive, talks down to its reader or break the story’s pace. It’s a wondeful storyteller’s voice that makes every word beg to be read aloud. Timothy Basil Ering’s sprightly illustrations add more dimension to its quirky characters and takes the reader a step beyond the world of Despereaux. The book’s lovely design gives this fairy tale a mythic feel that contributes to its over all enjoyment. Over and above, what makes The Tale of Despereaux truly remarkable is that it boldly tackles weighty themes that regular children’s books would have avoided. Given that this is a fairy tale with talking animals as its characters, Kate DiCamillo dares to raise topics that are too close for comfort. She doesn’t shy away from or sugar-cost the darker aspects of her story by bringing to the fore subjects such as cruelties one can do to harm or hurt others, violence, child abuse and — the most awful of the lot — parental abandonment. Through Despereaux’s story we see the pains of being different and his search for love and acceptance, things that are not often freely given, sadly sometimes, by those who belong in our primal relationship or even by those who are close to us. Dealing with these raw emotions in a way makes me feel that it may not appeal to some readers, notable of which are parents who are cautious with what their children are reading and I at one see that this might not be an ideal bedtime story reading. But well-meaning parents please do check this one out! Far from being gloomy, The Tale of Despereax is a book that celebrates courage in believing in yourself, honor, redemption, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. As a full-bodied soup, it warms and comforts the heart. As an entrée, the author serves up a satisfying meal in the grand tradition of the Grimm Brother’s fairy tales yet with distinction all its own and a balanced treatment of its main ingridient, the darkness and light, each equally important but with a decided appreciation towards the latter for just as the author declares “Stories are light.” Yes, I believe this story illuminates and will be cherieshed by children and child-at-hearts. It shines on. And how did it end you ask? It may not end up in the way they exactly wished for, as dreams aren’t realized in the way one hopes it to be. Still one can create it in a way it is need and can be achieved in more ways than one which goes to say that yes, Gentle Reader, each character deserves their own happily ever after. _________________________ Book Details: Book #9 for 2011 Published by Candlewick Press (Hardcover, First Edition 2003) 270 pages Started: March 27, 2011 Finished: March 27, 2011 My Rating:★★★★★ [See this book review on my book blog Dark Chest of Wonders and for many others.]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    3 stars I remember reading this as a child and enjoying it, though I'm sure it wouldn't be as good as when I'd read it at eleven. Therefore, 3 stars seems good enough.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    I never knew this was a book. I saw the movie of it on one of my bus trips north. Or maybe it was on the return trip south. Or even both, because I know I saw it twice. I thought the movie was wonderful, but as I say, I never knew it had been a book first. I just stumbled across the title while browsing at my favorite online used book seller one day and thought 'Oh, I have to get this!' And the book was every bit as wonderful as the movie. Actually better, because I loved the way DiCamillo would I never knew this was a book. I saw the movie of it on one of my bus trips north. Or maybe it was on the return trip south. Or even both, because I know I saw it twice. I thought the movie was wonderful, but as I say, I never knew it had been a book first. I just stumbled across the title while browsing at my favorite online used book seller one day and thought 'Oh, I have to get this!' And the book was every bit as wonderful as the movie. Actually better, because I loved the way DiCamillo would address remarks directly to the Reader every so often. We are told to go look up the word perfidy in the dictionary. We are told to say the word quest out loud.It is an extraordinary word, isn't it? So small and yet so full of wonder, so full of hope. And we are reminded of realities: Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform. Oh, speaking of rats: Rats have a sense of humor. Rats, in fact, think that life is very funny. And they are right, reader. They are right. Our hero Despereaux does not conform. He did not fit into Mouse World from the day he was born. He had to learn to be himself. And his fate did involve rats, but it also involved love, hope, light, and of course soup. Despereaux is supposed to eat the glue and pages of the books in the castle library, but instead he discovers that he can read, and he reads a story of a knight who rescues a princess. This story gives him the idea that will eventually be both his undoing and his salvation. There is a Princess, who is not used to being told what to do. And there is a peasant girl is is not used to anything other than being told what to do. And getting clouted on the ear. I felt very sorry for this girl, named Miggery Sow. Her father sold her for a red blanket, a chicken, and a handful of cigarettes. She sees the Princess ride by one day and decides then that she wants to be a Princess too. But the world does not care what poor Mig wants. She is taken at one point from the man who bought her, put to work in the castle and eventually plays her part in Despereaux's quest. Parts of the story were a little puzzling to me. Did Mig really have to get clouted on the ear so much? Was it necessary to have her (and later the King) described as not the sharpest knife in the drawer? This bit troubled me a little, but overall the book is fun, and would be great to read aloud.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Um, I really disliked this book. I read it aloud with my #3 and feel like a bad parent for doing so. Poor Miggery Sow- named after a pig, motherless, traded for next to nothing, abused, and then later described as lazy and fat. Crikey. And then there was the author's penchant for describing things to the "Reader" as an aside. Despereaux actually has a small part considering the continuous horrors of the story: evil rats, fair-weathered parents/siblings, the Queen's death, and the no soup decree. Um, I really disliked this book. I read it aloud with my #3 and feel like a bad parent for doing so. Poor Miggery Sow- named after a pig, motherless, traded for next to nothing, abused, and then later described as lazy and fat. Crikey. And then there was the author's penchant for describing things to the "Reader" as an aside. Despereaux actually has a small part considering the continuous horrors of the story: evil rats, fair-weathered parents/siblings, the Queen's death, and the no soup decree. Author, HATED IT.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I've now read this for the third time, every time as an adult. This is a book about the power of love and kindness. It is about how we are more alike than we are different. Important ideas to reinforce, and becoming more important by the day. Highly recommended to kids of all ages and the audio performance is beautifully and sensitively performed. <><><> I loved this book. There are so many great lessons for kids about doing the right thing, being brave, forgiving and having emp I've now read this for the third time, every time as an adult. This is a book about the power of love and kindness. It is about how we are more alike than we are different. Important ideas to reinforce, and becoming more important by the day. Highly recommended to kids of all ages and the audio performance is beautifully and sensitively performed. <><><> I loved this book. There are so many great lessons for kids about doing the right thing, being brave, forgiving and having empathy for others. It was very well-written. I also loved the author asides, as it brought an interesting flavor to the story and made it unique. The story itself was solid, but I liked the lessons and her delivery the best. I definitely want to read more by this author. *read this book again, and loved it, maybe even more than before. I'm reading another by her now too. What a nice, gentle read with some great messages for kids.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

    This book left me with the feeling that this story may not appeal to all readers. There were several important themes addressed in the story, yet little emotional attachment to the characters. The only character that many might relate to is Despereaux himself. He is ‘different’ both physically and emotionally from his peers which at first mostly works against him, though ultimately these unique qualities eventually save the day. I did really appreciate the way this author drew in the reader in a This book left me with the feeling that this story may not appeal to all readers. There were several important themes addressed in the story, yet little emotional attachment to the characters. The only character that many might relate to is Despereaux himself. He is ‘different’ both physically and emotionally from his peers which at first mostly works against him, though ultimately these unique qualities eventually save the day. I did really appreciate the way this author drew in the reader in a direct manner, literally addressing the reader in the story as if the author and reader are in this together. The author almost forces the reader to actively acknowledge the examples of forgiveness, the pain of being different, grief, prejudice, cruelty not only between natural enemies but also cruelty in those primary relationships with those who are supposed to love us, i.e., parents. There are also examples of compassion as shown by the princess, the cook, and a mouse. One important concept was present throughout the story. Light is good and darkness is evil. Striving for light (and music) represents hope and all that is worth striving for. Even the evil rat wants this light in the form of possessing the princess. The dungeon, or darkness, is scary, dirty, confusing, and cruel. Death resides in the darkness. The message is clear, i.e., keep heading for the light. I am glad the author did not end the story with a flip ‘happily ever after’ tone. Instead she showed how someone may not achieve exactly what they’d wished for, yet can still create a satisfactory life. Perhaps cutting off a mouse tail, hitting a girl until she is deaf, abandoning a child to a male predator, and images of being murdered by a disgusting rat left me feeling a tad raw. I certainly do realize there are children who are treated terribly in our real world, but I struggle to believe that any child would particular want to read about it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Truman32

    I had high hopes for Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux. What could I not like? It was about a tiny mouse with big ears, ostracized from the other mice, who fell in love with the human Princess Pea. Armed with only a sewing needle, Despereaux bravely goes to battle with the devious rats in the palace dungeon who have stolen her. I mean, it’s got to be great, right?!!! So I took it on vacation with my six-year-old son to read to him at bedtimes. Sadly, the story is slow paced and doesn’t cont I had high hopes for Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux. What could I not like? It was about a tiny mouse with big ears, ostracized from the other mice, who fell in love with the human Princess Pea. Armed with only a sewing needle, Despereaux bravely goes to battle with the devious rats in the palace dungeon who have stolen her. I mean, it’s got to be great, right?!!! So I took it on vacation with my six-year-old son to read to him at bedtimes. Sadly, the story is slow paced and doesn’t contain enough action to hold the interest of a six-year-old boy or a 40something dad. Inconceivably, DiCamillo spends the majority of the book writing about deaf serving girl Miggery Sow and the evil rat, Roscuro and not our hero mouse—something you would not expect in a book titled: The Tale of Despereaux. In fact in just a few minutes I have gone to the living room bookcase and grabbed Alex Haley’s Roots, To Kill a Mockingbird, Fifty Shades of Grey, and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and they all contain more action concerning tiny mice with large ears named Despereaux then DiCamillo’s book. Gor! The running gag of striking Miggery Sow, (a young girl) in the ear (she ultimately goes deaf—ha?) made me uncomfortable and the ending showdown between mouse-knight and rats was anticlimactic and disappointing on so many levels. On a positive note, my son says he did enjoy it and wants to see the movie, but I feel perhaps he saw how excited I was to read this and didn’t want to disappoint me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    R.F. Gammon

    My little sister just reread this book and it brought back all my traumatizing and terrifying memories of it and holy crap I hate this book Imma go have nightmares now (seriously the dungeon scared me SO MUCH) (this is not a children's book)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dimitris Hall

    I was thinking the other day: what would you do if you had a negative (and I mean really negative) opinion on a book but by chance happened to come across its author? What would you tell them if they asked you what you thought about their book? Without the luxury of the internet or reviews or all the other ways we have of expressing a negative opinion on things without having to come into direct contact with their creator, we tend to be more insensitive with our criticism. The medium is the mess I was thinking the other day: what would you do if you had a negative (and I mean really negative) opinion on a book but by chance happened to come across its author? What would you tell them if they asked you what you thought about their book? Without the luxury of the internet or reviews or all the other ways we have of expressing a negative opinion on things without having to come into direct contact with their creator, we tend to be more insensitive with our criticism. The medium is the message... What is the message the medium of criticism conveys? That, perhaps, individual works of art can be analysed, praised or attacked as if they existed in a void - as if they weren't created by people with flaws and feelings. I understand that criticism is necessary in a world as saturated with works of art as the one we live in, if only for us to be able to timidly navigate through this ever-expanding sea of creativity. However, I also believe it's necessary to look at established institutions a little more, ahem, critically from time to time. So: should we be writing criticism we wouldn't be able to say it to the authors' faces? I'll let you ponder that a for a sec. ... Done? Great! At this point I'll contradict myself, as I so happily and readily do, and say what I can say from the safety and isolation of my Goodreads account, albeit signed with my real name, a move I would predictably not make if I knew my review would be read by Kate DiCamillo and not get lost in the ego-stroking labyrinth of positive comments and reviews this piece of work has disappointingly received. This, people, is one of the worst books I've ever read. Terribly obnoxious, annoying, arbitrary characters; events I did not care about reading and that made me feel worse than before (what was up with the cauliflower ears? Come on!); an arrogant, didactic style of writing that's pretending not to be so but which cannot help but seep through... I'd go on but it's already been a couple of months since I read it so most of my vitriol has evaporated; that is, I can't really remember more of the exact reasons I didn't enjoy this book at all, but what I can tell you is that it managed to solidify itself in my memory as a bad reading experience, one that made me feel uncomfortable, a kind of uncanny sick inside. Maria did warn me, but I just had to sneak a peek at this train wreck... To not make this review longer than it should be, I'll just say that I'd never read this to my child. At least it had beautiful illustrations.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Some children's books are wonderfully odd. Others are just odd. The story of Desperaux (a mouse who doesn't just want to be a mouse) is told through the eyes of several different characters. As the stories weave in an out of each other, they draw closer together until the predictably improbably ending. Unfortunately, the characters in the world of Desperaux are all two dimensional; we are repeatedly told how bad the bad guys/rats are, and how good the good guys/mice are, and how clumsy a clumsy Some children's books are wonderfully odd. Others are just odd. The story of Desperaux (a mouse who doesn't just want to be a mouse) is told through the eyes of several different characters. As the stories weave in an out of each other, they draw closer together until the predictably improbably ending. Unfortunately, the characters in the world of Desperaux are all two dimensional; we are repeatedly told how bad the bad guys/rats are, and how good the good guys/mice are, and how clumsy a clumsy character is, and so on. The story weaves through adventure and emotion, without ever really connecting the two together. At times, the writing strains uncomfortably, as if the author was trying to hit a home run, but had to settle for a double. As if by sheer effort, she could make this book into a "classic", without first earning the affection of the readers. Skip it, I say. (Updated to add: The day I wrote this review, I come home to find that Becca (9 year old daughter) has checked out this book from her school library. So she liked it enough to read it again, and she's really enjoying it for the second time.)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Monique

    Two words to describe The Tale of Despereaux : sweet and heartwarming. In fact, if I were to give it another title, I'd call it A Little Mouse in Shining Armor. ;) The Tale of Despereaux is the combined stories of three unique characters. Despereaux Tilling is born small, but with huge ears. He is, however, no ordinary mouse, for he can read, he loves stories and music, and he eventually falls in love with pretty Princess Pea. Chiaroscuro, or Roscuro, is a rat who lives in the dungeon, but Two words to describe The Tale of Despereaux : sweet and heartwarming. In fact, if I were to give it another title, I'd call it A Little Mouse in Shining Armor. ;) The Tale of Despereaux is the combined stories of three unique characters. Despereaux Tilling is born small, but with huge ears. He is, however, no ordinary mouse, for he can read, he loves stories and music, and he eventually falls in love with pretty Princess Pea. Chiaroscuro, or Roscuro, is a rat who lives in the dungeon, but who longs for light, and seeks to thrive in it. Miggery Sow is a slow-witted little girl who was sold by her father for a red tablecloth and other sundry, to a man who made her his serving girl and gave her cauliflower ears for all the clouting he did. Their paths inevitably cross in a story of forgiveness, compassion, sacrifice, and yes, soup. The sweet part lies in the fact that Despereaux fell in love with a princess, and in his daydreams about defending and rescuing her, and in his efforts to prove how much he loved her. The heartwarming part is in the forgivenesses and sacrifices all around, and the fact that despite the three characters' shared attribute of being the odd man out among their peers, they would eventually find their happiness, and become content. This is the first book I've read with a narrative that addresses the reader directly: "But, reader, there is no comfort in the word 'farewell', even if you say it in French. 'Farewell' is a word that, in any language, is full of sorrow. It is a word that promises absolutely nothing" or "Reader, nothing is sweeter in this sad world than the sound of someone you love calling your name. Nothing." I thought it was a cute and fun way to narrate a story, and very effective, too. After reading Charlotte's Web the other week, which I loved, I knew I was in for another satisfying read with The Tale of Despereaux . Well, reader, Despereaux did not disappoint. :) Original post here.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Qt

    I listened to the story on tape--the reading undoubtedly added to my enjoyment and appreciation of it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    nicole

    A perfect combination of sweet and dark. Or light and dark, would be a more fitting description, I suppose. And by that I don't just mean that there were good deeds and bad deeds, right and wrong and everyone learned a lesson. Everyone didn't learn a lesson and some people/rats/mice were bad, cowardly, or just plain stupid. This is nothing like Roald Dahl, but they share a quality that I very much appreciate, particularly in children's lit: they let you dislike the unlikeable. Everyone is not ni A perfect combination of sweet and dark. Or light and dark, would be a more fitting description, I suppose. And by that I don't just mean that there were good deeds and bad deeds, right and wrong and everyone learned a lesson. Everyone didn't learn a lesson and some people/rats/mice were bad, cowardly, or just plain stupid. This is nothing like Roald Dahl, but they share a quality that I very much appreciate, particularly in children's lit: they let you dislike the unlikeable. Everyone is not nice or good, but some people (or mice) are exceptionally good and honorable. And Dicamillo, of course, never shies away from the sad. She may like death and disappoint a lot, but, I for one am glad it's out there for kids to read. I think parents (or the ones that shop here, anyway), sometimes want to (over)protect and forget that we learn just as much, if not more, from a book with both ends of the spectrum. "Everything, as you well know (having lived in this world long enough to have figured out a thing or two for yourself), cannot always be sweetness and light." (pg 183) I really like the narrator. I like the questions she asks, I ("Reader, do you think that it is a terrible thing to hope when there is really no reason to hope at all? Or is it (as the soldier said about happiness) something that you might just as well do, since, in the end, it really makes no difference to anyone but you?"), I like that she forces a dictionary on you ("Reader, do you know what the word 'perfidy' means? I have a feeling you do, based on the little scene that just unfolded here. But you should look up the word in your dictionary, just to be sure."), and I really love it when she encourages you to say the word "quest" out loud. Fantastic and completely engaging.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Malbadeen

    I love this book! I love, love, love this book! Which is something, because I don't typically love, love, love books and most certainly not books about mice. And I'm not a big reader of fantasy/fairy tales But this book: this book I LOVE! I read the first few chapters of this book several times before actually reading it. I'd see it in the library (where I work) or at home (waiting to be read) or in a teachers classroom and I always felt compelled to re-read the beginning purely for the enjoyment I love this book! I love, love, love this book! Which is something, because I don't typically love, love, love books and most certainly not books about mice. And I'm not a big reader of fantasy/fairy tales But this book: this book I LOVE! I read the first few chapters of this book several times before actually reading it. I'd see it in the library (where I work) or at home (waiting to be read) or in a teachers classroom and I always felt compelled to re-read the beginning purely for the enjoyment. (The only other book that has had this effect on me is "If on A Winters Night by Calvino). This book makes me want to be in the classroom again. I loved the dramatic tone created by the "Dear Reader" moments, I thought the balance of what was said and unsaid was perfect (I felt like hugging Kate DiCamillo after reading this ending to a chapter, "He had expected Cook to kill him. Instead, reader, she had laughed at him. And he was surprised how much her laughter hurt"). I loved that there were happy AND unhappy endings. oh and the Rats heart that didn't mend properly - I love that. did I mention I love this book yet?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform. This is a cute and entertaining story about an undersized mouse with oversized ears who falls in love with a princess. Although this book is geared toward children, the plot and the writing are sophisticated enough that people of all ages should be able to enjoy it. I thought it was funny and heartwarming, and I loved the message behind it. My only c Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform. This is a cute and entertaining story about an undersized mouse with oversized ears who falls in love with a princess. Although this book is geared toward children, the plot and the writing are sophisticated enough that people of all ages should be able to enjoy it. I thought it was funny and heartwarming, and I loved the message behind it. My only complaint is that I thought too much of the book focused on Roscuro and Miggery Sow, while not featuring Despereaux at all. Overall I thought this book was great and I would definitely recommend it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I saw the upcoming movie previews and thought I should read the book. This edition is a slim volume with ragged edged paper and lovely charcoal illlustrations. It certainly is an original work. Young Despereaux is the youngest mouse, born of a french mouse mother and father. He is the runt, small and undersized with big ears. He was born with his "eyes wide open". These ears allow him to hear things other mice don't hear and his eyes observes things other mice don't see. Thus the adventure beg I saw the upcoming movie previews and thought I should read the book. This edition is a slim volume with ragged edged paper and lovely charcoal illlustrations. It certainly is an original work. Young Despereaux is the youngest mouse, born of a french mouse mother and father. He is the runt, small and undersized with big ears. He was born with his "eyes wide open". These ears allow him to hear things other mice don't hear and his eyes observes things other mice don't see. Thus the adventure begins. Like the works of the late Roald Dahl and many classic fairy tales, this story includes scenes of parental abandonment and cruelty (Hansel & Gretel, Matilda) and nightmare fantasy (being alone and lost in a maze-like dark dungeon) What is unique is the voice of the narrator. This is a story meant to be read aloud. The narrator asks the reader questions throughout the tale. It reminds me of the very best children's librarians whose delightful way of reading a story, and engaging their young listeners in "story hour", have given all of us such fond memories and contributed to our lifelong love of books.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rina

    A talking mouse falls in love with a beautiful princess, and, armed with only a needle, vows to rescue her from the clutches of an evil rat and a dull servant-girl. Admittedly, it sounds a bit (okay, very) trite. That was my mindset too, even after the librarian had gushed on and on about what a wonderful book it was (did she think I was going to read some LITTLE KIDS' fairytale?). But two years ago, I was waiting backstage during a piano concert, bored out of my mind, when I found The Tale of De A talking mouse falls in love with a beautiful princess, and, armed with only a needle, vows to rescue her from the clutches of an evil rat and a dull servant-girl. Admittedly, it sounds a bit (okay, very) trite. That was my mindset too, even after the librarian had gushed on and on about what a wonderful book it was (did she think I was going to read some LITTLE KIDS' fairytale?). But two years ago, I was waiting backstage during a piano concert, bored out of my mind, when I found The Tale of Despereaux lying on a table. What I was thinking as I picked it up was something like "Well, it's better than nothing." What I actually found was one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read. A simple, heart-breaking tale of love, soup, light, and impossible hopes and dreams. So, you see, don't judge a book by its cover (or in this case, its summary). Who knows what you might miss?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Aranda

    This is an absolute treasure of a book. Everyone needs to read this book no matter what their age is because it is absolutely that wonderful of a book. The story seemed so different from what I expected of a fairy tale setting. There was a certain level of darkness to this story that was balanced by the happy moments and feelings Despereaux experiences. This is why I think this book could be read by anyone at any age. Graeme Malcolm was the perfect choice for this audiobook. It was delightful hea This is an absolute treasure of a book. Everyone needs to read this book no matter what their age is because it is absolutely that wonderful of a book. The story seemed so different from what I expected of a fairy tale setting. There was a certain level of darkness to this story that was balanced by the happy moments and feelings Despereaux experiences. This is why I think this book could be read by anyone at any age. Graeme Malcolm was the perfect choice for this audiobook. It was delightful hearing his accents and different vocal tones. I'll definitely be happy to hear more narratives from him in the future. This has to be one of my favorite audiobooks that I've listened to.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nessa

    A award winning book about a mouse, a love, a rat, and some soup.

  26. 4 out of 5

    C.B. Cook

    Not many books make me tear up, but when I got to the end of this one... yeah, I did. Mostly because it's a gorgeous ending, and the author note? Priceless. <3 Always one of my childhood favorites!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nafiza

    If somebody had tried to tell me a month ago that one of my favourite books read in 2012 would have a little mouse as its protagonist, I would have laughed. I am not big on anthropomorphic characters. I mean, except cats that appear as characters. Those I love but mice and other talking things? Yeah, no, not my thing at all. However, Despereaux calls to mind something warm, something soft, defenseless. Like one of those pictures of kittens that are so plentiful on tumblr. How do you resist? Anywa If somebody had tried to tell me a month ago that one of my favourite books read in 2012 would have a little mouse as its protagonist, I would have laughed. I am not big on anthropomorphic characters. I mean, except cats that appear as characters. Those I love but mice and other talking things? Yeah, no, not my thing at all. However, Despereaux calls to mind something warm, something soft, defenseless. Like one of those pictures of kittens that are so plentiful on tumblr. How do you resist? Anyway, the story itself is so heartwarming, so unassuming and so guileless that I couldn’t help but be swept away by the heroic quest of one of the least heroic characters I have ever come across in my reading career. Knowing that it is impossible for him and attempting to rescue the princess anyway? That is courage, people. No matter how flashy and beautiful The Invention of Hugo Cabret may have been, I think The Tale of Despereaux wins simply on account of how beautiful the story is. No, no one has been comparing the two, it’s just me. I urge you to read this for yourself and if you have a child in your life, read it out loud to them. Watch the wonder in their eyes as they follow the adventures of one poor mouse who is condemned at birth and who even loses his tail. Watch them react to the horrible rats, especially the irascible villain of the piece who walks around with a spoon as a hat. This is a beautiful book, a classic really, and should find a home on your shelf in all its illustrated glory. Strongly recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    Just started this two hours ago for the Bibliothon & finished it in one sitting. It's such a cute and entertaining read. I love it just as much this second time than when my mom read it to me years ago. It is the story of a little brave mouse, a lost rat, a wishful slave girl, and a sweet princess. Their lives all become intertwined. I really liked how the author addressed the reader and told some good ethics to the readers. So when a young reader reads this they are getting a good message t Just started this two hours ago for the Bibliothon & finished it in one sitting. It's such a cute and entertaining read. I love it just as much this second time than when my mom read it to me years ago. It is the story of a little brave mouse, a lost rat, a wishful slave girl, and a sweet princess. Their lives all become intertwined. I really liked how the author addressed the reader and told some good ethics to the readers. So when a young reader reads this they are getting a good message told to them along with this adventurous tale. I overall really liked this & I can't wait to read it to my niece when she gets a bit older so she can understand and love this story too!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Libby May

    That was such a weird story I have no clue what genre it qualifies as. It was sort of cute at first, and then got creepy quickly. And then sort of tangled up in a complicated "happily ever after." Umm... so yeah. Check mark?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Lovely, excellent audio. Beautiful, convincing narration. The ending of the story itself seemed a bit abrupt, but I know I would have loved this as a child.

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