****The Tale of Despereaux
Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool
by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
Reviewed November 24, 2003.
Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2003. 272
Available at Sembach Library (JF DIC)
Winner of the 2004 Newbery Medal
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out
#3, Children's Fantasy
Here’s a magnificently done original fairy tale about a little
mouse with big ears who falls in love with a princess.
Despereaux is not like other mice. He was born with
his eyes open and obscenely large ears. The other mice don’t
approve of him, because he doesn’t scurry. He hears music that
other mice don’t even notice. To cap it all off, he falls in love
with the princess.
When the other castle mice condemn him to the dungeon, Despereaux
learns of a wicked plot a rat has made against the princess.
Since no one will believe him, it is up to Despereaux to save her.
The story is simple, but it is beautifully told. Kate
DiCamillo uses an old-fashioned style, speaking directly to the reader.
The style is perfect, giving this modern fairy tale a mythic quality.
It’s a story that begs to be read aloud. The author’s voice is
one that would work wonderfully as a storyteller’s voice. I’m going
to try it on my 9-year-old, though it would definitely work for kids much
younger to listen to, I would say even kids just beginning to be ready
to listen to chapter books.
The editor, art director and illustrator and anyone else who
worked on the design of this book deserve high praise, too. The
format is perfect for an old-fashioned fairy tale, with deckle-edged
pages and the full title in gold letters on the spine. The illustrations
are beautiful and the book itself is a work of art. It strikes
me that this book would make an excellent Christmas gift to any family
that likes to read aloud.
Reviews of other books by Kate DiCamillo:
Flora and Ulysses
Mercy Watson to the Rescue
Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig
Bink and Gollie
Bink and Gollie: Two For One
Bink and Gollie: Best Friends Forever
One reader gives this book Five Stars with the comment "so fun."
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.
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