Excellent uplifting tale for all ages to enjoy. Definitely a good book to read to young children aloud. Writing style is interactive for the child. Moral story about believing in dreams and self-confidence to follow you heart. Themes of truth, faith, forgiveness, and courage abound.
Keitia J. reviewed The Tale of Despereaux : Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
i simply love this book i recomend any mother who has a child struggling with confidence or who are made fun of for being different to get this book! this is one book i keep very close to my heart. any one, young or old should read this book!
This book was fantastic! I read the whole thing outloud to the kids and they loved it just as much as I did. I really enjoyed the whole story. I can't wait to see the movie to this! This is an excellent book for any reader that loves fun and adventure. This book is rated for 7-12 year old. I am in my late 30's and I LOVED IT! Happy Reading! Heather
I have read a number of DiCamillo books and loved most of them. I decided to read this book because my son got the movie and I was interested in reading the book before I saw it. It was a wonderful book!
This book tells the tale of three "people". Despereaux, a mouse that is too different to be accepted, whose path leads him to fall in love with a human princess. Despereaux is cast to darkness for his differences. The second person is Chiaroscuro, a rat who yearns for the light but makes his home in the dungeon. Then there is Miggery Sow (Mig), a girl whose leads a miserable life and will do anything to become a princess. All of their fates are intertwined.
This was a great story. DiCamillo, as usual, does a wonderful job of making the story come alive. She is just a great story-teller in the most classical sense. All of the characters are interesting and engaging. There are a number of morals reinforced through the story. It is a quick read for an adult, but well worth it. I really didn't find anything to complain about in this book.
Unlike "The Elephant's Magician" I think younger children could really get into this story. In fact I started reading it to my three year old son and he didn't want me to stop. I am pretty sure he doesn't understand all the different messages the story is delivering, but he can get into the story of a young mouse fighting for his Princess.
I think this is my favorite of all the DiCamillo books that I have read. People of all walks of life and ages should read this book. It is a wonderful story.
Audrey reviewed The Tale of Despereaux : Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I read this book to my class of second graders and instantly fell in love. I especially appreciate the way the author will occasionally write directly to the reader, as if to clarify or assists young readers as they read the book. My students' approval of the book was unanimous. Some even bought their own copies because they couldn't wait for me to finish reading it aloud to the class.
Michael R. (spanky) reviewed The Tale of Despereaux : Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread on
Helpful Score: 1
Well, I know I'm in the minority with my review, but I really didn't like the book that much. I read it in 2 days. I felt that I needed to hurry to the end to see how many of the tragedies could be put to right in the end. The author is very effective at painting vivid pictures, but so many of them were heart-wrenching... I couldn't wait to finish reading this book.
Amanda - reviewed The Tale of Despereaux : Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread on + 141 more book reviews
Parents should read this book first
The story was nice enough - easy reading, friendly explanations as needed, nicely paced. But the book was not what I hoped for. Desperaux is not "the main character" but merely the first character. In fact, he's not even in at least half of the book. While not told in a horrifying manner, there is a girl who gets cuffed on the head regularly - so regularly that her ears resemble cauliflower, she becomes hard of hearing, & her sense of smell doesn't work quite right. All this happens to her before she is 12! I realize child abuse happens, but factually presenting it in a story for children is not something I'm keen on. Now there are things to like about the book (author intentionally expands vocabulary, teaches the power of forgiveness, of thinking of others, etc) but this is certainly a book I recommend parents read first (it won't take long) and then deciding if your child is ready for the book or not.
Lisa M. reviewed The Tale of Despereaux : Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread on + 32 more book reviews
Excellent book for all ages! My children loved when we read it out loud for the younger ones. The children loved the adventure and humorous actions throughout the story. I liked this book for my children because the mouse chooses bravery and courage in times of peril. A good wholesome book.
**spoiler alert** This one frustrated and disappointed me, and was not loved by my 7-year-old audience either.
The book is divided into four sections, focusing first on the titular mouse, then on a very evil rat (not Disney-style fun evil, but sadistic, sociopathic, soul-breaking evil), then on a little girl who has beaten to near deafness, and finally it moves to the climax where all the characters are brought together. At about the halfway point we began to wonder if we were ever going to hear from little Desperaux again. Although I was interested in the girl named Miggery Sow, who I thought had the potential to be a stronger character later in the book (spoiler: no), my listener just wanted to get back to the mouse. That took FOREVER. And let me be clear: there isn't a single likeable character in the entire rest of the book. That means that for more than half the time we were reading this book, we were reading about characters we either disliked or feared, and wondering when we were going to rejoin the only likeable character in the book. On that basis alone, I would not recommend this book.
The themes of the book seem to be, predictably enough, the triumph of light over darkness and the triumph of love over evil. Also, soup. Presumably to illustrate the stupendous power of light/love, the dark parts were very very dark. It was especially hard for me to read aloud the parts where Miggery Sow was beaten anew on her already disfigured and half-deaf ears and cries out in pain. Or was it worse when she was told she was too stupid or too ugly to amount to anything? In addition to Miggery Sow abuse, there is the truly psychologically twisted rat, and all the parents are awful (sentences young son to death), awful (more interested in own looks than son), awful (sold daughter for cigarettes). Or dead, one is dead (spoiler: yes, it is the princess's mother!).
The tone of the book is forced charm, and includes passages that address the reader directly ("Reader, do you recall the word 'perfidy'? As our story progresses, 'perfidy' becomes an ever more appropriate word, doesn't it?"), ugh. I skipped those wherever I was nimble enough to see them coming. Almost everything about the book seems overwrought, from the recurring reminder of the restorative powers of hot soup to the unrelenting, backstabbing horribleness of Despereaux's family. The mouse council, which includes Despereaux's father, sentences young Despereaux to the castle dungeon to be eaten alive by rats for the crime of being different. His mother is too concerned with her own physical appearance to even care. The circumstances were so over-the-top awful that they became maudlin verging on tacky.
But beyond that, I was disappointed in the messages that the book had to offer. The reader is meant to identify with Despereaux, the only sympathetic character in the book, but his quest is to take it upon himself to rescue the princess (with whom he is in love), despite the extreme unlikeliness of success. Admirably, he overcomes his fears, sticks to his mission, and shows great courage in the face of harm. All the pluckiest features we think we want in our own children. However, in my opinion, the model of single hero who takes it upon himself (it's almost always a him, not a her) to save the world is not a healthy one. As Colin Stokes so wisely points out, these aren't the skills we want for our children as they go out into the world. We want them to know how to work collaboratively, to be team-builders who inspire the best in people. We want them to make plans that have good chances of success (an undersized mouse alone in a dungeon with a sewing needle for protection is not what that looks like) and don't put their own well-being in unreasonable danger unless absolutely necessary. Despereaux does not show good judgment. His success was a complete fluke, and I would not want my child to take the one-in-a-million chance with her own safety that he took with his. In fact, I have told her many times that if she feels in her gut that she is in an unsafe situation, she needs to get herself the heck out of it any way she can as fast as she can. I don't even want her to pause to consider forcing herself down whatever dungeon stairs she is facing. And if she meets any real-life Chiaroscuros, I don't want her to linger long enough to find out if he is really motivated by a love of light, I want her to run in the opposite direction and never look back.
And finally, Princess Pea. Pea, you made me realize that we are living in a time where it's no longer good enough for the princesses in our stories wait around to be rescued by the little boys. Pea, my seven-year-old daughter was disappointed in you (she actually asked me why the princess didn't fight the rat), and I am so grateful that the other books and movies in her life have led her to expect more than the passive resignation to one's fate that was your primary feature. Pea, my daughter does not want you to be her prize for completing her quest. Maybe in our next book the princess will rescue herself or, even better, be just one part of the heroic team that saves the day.