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Book Review: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

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Born in a huge castle, Despereaux was a too-small mouse who only wished to love and live happily ever after. His family didn't understand him. The Mouse Council banished him to his doom in the castle dungeon to be eaten by rats. And through it all he didn't give up on loving the Princess Pea.

Unfortunately, Despereaux's path would cross that of Roscuro, the rat who caused the death of Princess Pea's mother by falling into a bowl of soup, and Miggery Sow, a young girl sold by her father and abused by the man who bought her (clouted on the ear till she grew near-deaf).

Through it all, despite the threat of certain death or being lost forever in the darkness of the dungeon (if the rats don't find him and eat him first!), Despereaux holds true to his love.

In addition to writing The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo is also the author of The Tiger Rising, Because of Winn-Dixie, two Mercy Watson books (about an adventure-seeking pig for younger readers), and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

She's won the Newberry Award for both Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux. Because of Winn-Dixie was also made into a movie of the same name.

The Tale of Despereaux is the perfect book to read aloud to young pre-readers. Despite the author's flip-flopping back and forth in time to bring to life the supporting characters and backstory, those listeners will have no problem staying up with every move the tale makes. In fact, the telling grows even stronger because they can actually see the difficulties that lie ahead for Despereaux even before the mouse hero does. Added to that is Dicamillo's narrative when she gently addresses the reader and craftily pulls the reader and the listener more tightly into the grasp of her story.

Magic truly takes shape on the pages of The Tale of Despereaux. A Newberry-award winner, the book is probably on the shelves of most school libraries and is an Accelerated Reader book. Recommended to anyone who likes to read aloud to children, or to anyone who likes to be read to. Despite the thickness of the book, the story is over well before the reader/listener is ready to step away from it.

My wife is a fourth grade teacher. After hearing me read the book aloud to our third-grader, she started reading it to her class on days that it rained and recess was held inside. Even when the weather cleared up, the kids were willing to give up outside recess to hear more of the book. This is truly one of those enchanting stories that will last for generations.

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About Mel Odom

  • Shdukdhsh

    I love author

  • This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net , which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States, and to Boston.com. Nice work!