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The Tale of Despereaux: 08/11/12

cover art

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo won the 2004 Newbery Award. It's the story of an outcast mouse who ends up becoming a hero by extraordinary means.

Despereaux Tilling is the only surviving mouse from his parents' last litter. His ears are too big and he had his eyes open at birth, something that just isn't done. He continues doing things that shouldn't be done including talking to the princess and letting the king touch him. For his crimes against mousedom he's sentenced to the dark to be killed by the rats in the dungeon.

Despereaux, though, is only one of three characters who doesn't fit in where life has put him. His story is woven together with the other two: Migs and Rosuro. Migs is a girl sold into hard labor by her father, and beaten until she is deaf. Rosuro is a rat who wishes to see the sunlight.

While teaching about being true to ones self, author Dicamillo takes the time to make the narrative conventions (such as flashbacks) she's using obvious. Through her "dear reader" asides she teaches children how more complex stories are told, guiding them through the process.

Three stars

Comments (6)

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Comment #1: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 17:40:40


I had a lot of fun with this when I read it last year. I really enjoyed DiCamillo's style and structure. She definitely took advantage of her position to add teaching moments to an otherwise somewhat simple and light piece of work.

Good fun.

Comment #2: Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 15:50:55


I read it for school so I can't exactly say it was a fun experience. The class I was taking was very stressful!

Comment #3: Friday, August 17, 2012 at 17:32:09


Yeah, that would put a damper on the enjoyment. Sometimes I like reading things for a class because I "get more out of it" through class discussion and whatnot, but if the class is annoying and stressful, it certainly can ruin a good book.

Comment #4: Friday, August 17, 2012 at 20:10:00


This wasn't a class where we were discussing the literary merits of particular books. We were supposed to be learning how to select age appropriate books but the professor hardly did any teaching. She preferred instead to grade harshly when we couldn't read her mind!

Comment #5: Monday, August, 20, 2012 at 15:28:30


Lame...I'm definitely not a fan of teachers like that. Sorry you had to suffer through.

Comment #6: Friday, August 24, 2012 at 10:11:00


As you can imagine, I didn't write a very nice teacher review.

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