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.