March 19, 2012

The Tale of Despereaux


by Kate DiCamillo

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. :)

Rating: ★★★★

1 comment:

angus25 said...

You know what? In Hitchhiker, the mice are depicted as the smartest beings, but they strike the reader as sinister. This book is quite the opposite in depicting mice.