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The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo

The Tale of Despereaux (original 2003; edition 2003)

by Kate Dicamillo, Timothy B Ering (Illustrator)

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7,977409408 (4.1)200
Title:The Tale of Despereaux
Authors:Kate Dicamillo
Other authors:Timothy B Ering (Illustrator)
Info:Scholastic (2003), Paperback, 269 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Newbery Award, Medieval Times

Work details

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo (2003)


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» See also 200 mentions

English (407)  German (2)  All languages (409)
Showing 1-5 of 407 (next | show all)
This is the second brief fairy tale by DiCamillo that I have read. Like its princess it has a lot of darkness in it. ( )
  themulhern | Sep 11, 2016 |
Science Fiction/Fantasy Discussion
  EmLu | Aug 10, 2016 |
In Book 1, we meet Desperaux, a tiny mouse with large ears and an exceptionally large heart, who falls in love with a (human) princess.
In Book 2, we meet Chiaroscuro, a rat, who at first seems like he might be an exception to the "rats are wicked" stereotype, but no, he's wicked.
In Book 3, we meet Miggery Sow, a human child who I desperately wanted to like and feel some sympathy for, but she was portrayed in such an unlikable way, I found I just couldn't.
In Book 4, these three characters and their stories all intersect.
It is an odd book, in which the author frequently speaks directly to us: "Dear reader..." The human/animal interactions were simultaneously, like normal human/animal interactions, and insanely different from normal, as the animals spoke to the humans in English, and this was not a surprise to anyone.
Deserving of the Newberry I think, though I would have liked it more had Miggery Sow not been such an unsympathetic character. ( )
  fingerpost | Aug 3, 2016 |
I am reading this out loud to my children. So far, it is quite entertaining and a good book for readers around the 5th -6th grade to read. It is not a simple book for them to read as there are words they will not know, but the author is doing a great job in pulling them into the story. I am reading 4 chapters an evening to my kids and they always want more. I tell two of my children that they are strong enough readers at this point to read this on their own if they want to. Hopefully, reading stories like this will help to draw out their desire to read on their own a bit more. ( )
  joefreiburger | Jul 3, 2016 |
Beautiful, sad, funny, and ultimately wise, Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux is destined, I believe, to become a childhood classic. It certainly deserved the Newbery Medal which it won! Opening with the story of the eponymous Despereaux Tilling, a tiny mouse who offends his murine community by falling in love with a human princess, thereby earning banishment to the castle dungeons, there to die at the hands of the terrible rats, the story ties together four main narrative strands. There is the aforementioned Despereaux; there is the light-addled rat Chiaroscuro - Roscuro for short - who also transgresses against the rules of his kind, and who thirsts for vengeance when he discovers how hated his kind are, out in the world of light; there is the much neglected and abused young serving girl, Miggery Sow, whose vision of hope involves becoming a princess; and then there is the Princess Pea herself, mourning for her dead mother. The fates of these four characters converge in a moving tale of longing, love and light...

Immediately engrossing as a story, this book is also a moving and thought-provoking exploration of a number of important themes. I was struck by the wisdom of the author's many asides, in which she addresses the reader directly, asking them to consider the nature of everything from love to despair, forgiveness to vengeance. I know that this style of directly addressing the reader has put some off, but I found it charming. I also thought it revealed a great respect for the child reader on the author's part, a determination to draw them into a wider world of reflection and critical thought. I found so many passages in The Tale of Despereaux moving, but I will quote just three, to give a sampling:

"Reader, you may ask this question; in fact, you must ask this question: Is it ridiculous for a very small, sickly, big-eared mouse to fall in love with a beautiful human princess named Pea?
The answer is... yes. Of course, it's ridiculous.
Love is ridiculous.
But love is also wonderful. And powerful."


"Forgiveness, reader, is, I think, something very much like hope and love, a powerful, wonderful thing.
And a ridiculous thing, too.
Isn't it ridiculous, after all, to think that a son could forgive his father for beating the drum that sent him to his death? Isn't it ridiculous to think that a mouse could ever forgive anyone for such perfidy?
But still, here are the words Despereaux Tilling spoke to his father. He said, "I forgive you, Pa."
And he said those words because he sensed that it was the only way to save his own heart, to stop it from breaking in two. Despereaux, reader, spoke those words to save himself."


"Pea was suddenly aware of how fragile her heart was, how much darkness was inside it, fighting, always, with the light. She did not like the rat. She would never like the rat, but she knew what she must do to save her own heart." ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jun 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 407 (next | show all)
This funny, original story brings four different strands into a narrative whole, with well-developed fairytale characters. There's Despereaux, the heroic young mouse who would rather read books than gnaw them; Chiaroscuro, a rat living in a dark dungeon, who aspires to a life filled with light; Miggery Sow, a serving girl who longs to be a princess; and, of course, the princess herself, who looks and acts just like the princesses in Despereaux's beloved book of fairytales.
added by kthomp25 | editCooperative Children's Book Center

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate DiCamilloprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ering, Timothy BasilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malcolm, GraemeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The world is dark, and light is precious. Come closer, dear reader. You must trust me. I am telling you a story.
For Luke, who asked for the story of an unlikely hero
First words
This story begins within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse.
There are those hearts, reader, that never mend again once they are broken. Or if they do mend, they heal themselves in a crooked and lopsided way, as if sewn together by a careless craftsman.
Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
I enjoyed the book. I think it would be a good book to read with young children ages 9 and up. The story skips around a lot. Children may benefit from keeping a timeline of events as they read the story, and they will see how it all comes together. I think the idea of forgiveness is major theme of the book, and can be used to help children connect with the concept of forgiveness and what that means to them.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0763625299, Paperback)

Kate DiCamillo, author of the Newbery Honor book Because of Winn-Dixie, spins a tidy tale of mice and men where she explores the "powerful, wonderful, and ridiculous" nature of love, hope, and forgiveness. Her old-fashioned, somewhat dark story, narrated "Dear Reader"-style, begins "within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse." Despereaux Tilling, the new baby mouse, is different from all other mice. Sadly, the romantic, unmouselike spirit that leads the unusually tiny, large-eared mouse to the foot of the human king and the beautiful Princess Pea ultimately causes him to be banished by his own father to the foul, rat-filled dungeon.

The first book of four tells Despereaux's sad story, where he falls deeply in love with Princess Pea and meets his cruel fate. The second book introduces another creature who differs from his peers--Chiaroscuro, a rat who instead of loving the darkness of his home in the dungeon, loves the light so much he ends up in the castle& in the queen's soup. The third book describes young Miggery Sow, a girl who has been "clouted" so many times that she has cauliflower ears. Still, all the slow-witted, hard-of-hearing Mig dreams of is wearing the crown of Princess Pea. The fourth book returns to the dungeon-bound Despereaux and connects the lives of mouse, rat, girl, and princess in a dramatic denouement.

Children whose hopes and dreams burn secretly within their hearts will relate to this cast of outsiders who desire what is said to be out of their reach and dare to break "never-to-be-broken rules of conduct." Timothy Basil Ering's pencil illustrations are stunning, reflecting DiCamillo's extensive light and darkness imagery as well as the sweet, fragile nature of the tiny mouse hero who lives happily ever after. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:50 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The adventures of Desperaux Tilling, a small mouse of unusual talents, the princess that he loves, the servant girl who longs to be a princess, and a devious rat determined to bring them all to ruin.

(summary from another edition)

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4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Candlewick Press

4 editions of this book were published by Candlewick Press.

Editions: 0763625299, 0763617229, 0763629286, 0763640778

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