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Tales of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo

Tales of Desperaux (2003)

by Kate DiCamillo

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6,695None556 (4.11)185
leithe's review
Dicamillo provides an engaging story with a hero that anyone can relate too (even if he is a mouse). Her writing style invites the reader to be a part of and think deeper about the story and what it means. The movie that came out of this book has made it even more popular.
  leithe | Apr 28, 2012 |
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Showing 1-25 of 337 (next | show all)
Summary: This is a tale of a mouse who is different and falls in love with a human. He is very adventurous. Despereaux escapes from his death sentence to save the princess.

Personal Reaction: I thought this was a cute, exciting book. I thought the author was reading the book to me rather than me sitting there reading the book. I don't think this book would be suitable for young children because it deals with abuse and a dungeon. This would be a good book show that not every book has a happy ending.

Classroom extensions:
-I would use this book to have students create their own fairytale.
-I would have students identify the different parts that it takes to create a fairy tale.
-I would use this book to explain that not everything in life has a happy ending.
  ChelseyPowers | Apr 10, 2014 |
Newbery Medal. RGG: Simple fairytale; seems targeted towards a younger audience than DiCamillo's other novels.
  rgruberexcel | Apr 10, 2014 |
Newbery Medal. RGG: Simple fairytale; seems targeted towards a younger audience than DiCamillo's other novels.
  rgruberexcel | Apr 10, 2014 |
Newbery Medal. RGG: Simple fairytale; seems targeted towards a younger audience than DiCamillo's other novels.
  rgruberexcel | Apr 10, 2014 |
The Tale of Despereaux is an adventure following a big eared mouse with a big heart full of love for a princess. No matter what people say or think, nothing is going to crush the little mouses hopes or dreams. Despereaux hears of a kidnapping of the princess and is off to save the day and the princess of course. The little mouse travels through adventure as the pages unfold. It is an exciting and adventurous book, great to use in a classroom read along.

Classroom Extension: Have children read the book and then watch the movie and compare and contrast the two. It can also be used in a creative writing exercise in which child write their own life saving adventure. ( )
  Nicolec78 | Mar 27, 2014 |
The Tale of Despereaux follows the story of a tiny mouse that forbiddingly falls in love with a human princess. When the mouse, Despereaux, finds out that a servant and rat have kidnapped the princess he goes through all measures to save her. The message of this story was that even if your dreams are looked down upon you shouldn’t give up on them. The author got this message across by separating the book into four separate books. The first three books each followed the story of a different character. By doing this, the author allowed the reader to get into the mind of each character. As a reader I was able to truly understand each characters desires and how they dealt with having those desires taken away from them. For the last book the author showed all the characters coming together. By doing this he was able to show how each characters actions affected the others. Each character had very different dreams and desires but they were all similar in the fact that their dreams were forbidden and looked down upon. The important message however was to make sure that you are achieving your goals in an honorable manor. By using four different perspectives the author was able to get this point across. I really enjoyed this story because the author pulled me in and made me feel like a part of the story. The narrator of the story talked specifically to me as a reader which was an engaging way to help readers connect to the story. The narrator would call the reader “reader” and “you” while asking them to specifically think about what is happening in the story, what they think about the story, connect the story to their life, and perform tasks related to the story. I also enjoyed how the book had some pictures in it. This is often uncommon to chapter books in this case it really helped me visualize important events in the story. ( )
  CarolinePfrang | Mar 24, 2014 |
I listened to this book on my drives down and back to Olympia. A mouse falls in love with a princess--a scandal ensues and the adventure begins. This book is perfectly suited to being read aloud because of the narrator and how it often addresses the reader. Also, such a fun story that plays with the ideas of stereotypes and feeling like you don't belong in the society you're born into. I could rave about Kate DiCamillo's books forever. ( )
  LoisHaight | Mar 19, 2014 |
Being different is hard, especially when you are a mouse with big ears and a big heart for adventure. Despereaux Tilling longs to be a knight and save a fair princess, but when fate and terrible circumstance give him the chance to do just that he must prove that he is up to the challenge.

This is a wonderful story and the book possesses elements which are a bit darker than the movie adaptation. Still, the kingdom of Dor is a wonderful place for young readers to explore and I found the story of courage just the kind of thing that children sometimes need to hear. Despereaux may have big dreams but he is still a little mouse. However, he doesn't let that get in his way and he does great things with his tiny hopes and dreams. ( )
  abrial2433 | Mar 18, 2014 |
A tiny mouse loses his tail, saves a princess, and eats soup. Despereaux is a sneezy, dreamy mouse prone to fainting, who does daring acts of chivalry and helps mend the broken hearts of those around him. The story is probably too dark for the younger range of the age group because there is child abuse, cruelty, and a terrifying dungeon oddly placed beneath a beautiful castle, and most of the adult behavior is incomprehensible to young children, but older children might appreciate a less sentimental fairytale. Not everyone gets a happy ending but they do get forgiveness, and the story has a sympathy and understanding of the wickedness in people that most children's stories brush over or deny. The text is long but not too hard for the age range, and the more difficult words are used in context. The pencil drawings perfectly capture the different personalities of the characters and the mood of the story, and keep the theme from becoming too dark. ( )
  Honanb | Mar 17, 2014 |
This book is about a small mouse who was born with his eyes open and big ears. Since Desperaux's birth he was considered weird by every other mouse in the kingdom. Despearauxs large ears gave him an advantage with hearing. With his ears one day he hear noises that were in a pattern that made a beautiful sound. The sound was music. He followed the noise to the king playing to his daughter the princess. One day his brother took him to the royal library. His brother told him to eat a book, Desperaux instead chose to read it. He from that point on was on a quest to save the princess from the rat with a vendetta.

I thought this book was good. It at times was kind of annoying considering that the narrator would jump in asking the reader to look up words. The book had elements of action, trickery and heroism. Desperaux was at times very heroic and was very brave. This book had parts that were sad. The book always had that element of sadness to every single character. Like the king and his dead wife and desperaux with his cut off tale. The book was good and only at the end truly happy.
  GarrettE1.B4 | Mar 17, 2014 |
Despereaux starts out as an outcast who was also very sensitive to his surroundings. He always carried a handkerchief; he ran temperatures and fainted at loud noises. He wasn’t interested in the ways of mice. In the end Despereaux finds his courage and the bravery he needs to save Princess Pea, whom he has come to adore. I think the theme of the story is triumph. All of the characters were facing some sort of obstacle or challenge. In the end, they were all sitting at the table together eating soup with contentment. I think there was also the underlying message that being an outcast isn’t always a bad thing. Despereaux followed his heart and although he was insecure and sensitive at first. In the end, he was able to overcome all of that and embrace the mouse he was meant to be all along.
  psuchilit14 | Mar 15, 2014 |
The Tale of Despereaux is the story of a mouse who is very different from all other mice. He has small ears, was born with his eyes open, and falls in love with a human. Despereaux gets sentenced to death in the dungeon but escapes to save the Princess, who he loves, from the plot of an evil rat. The main message of this story is of hope. The purpose is to show that it is ok to be unique. I really liked this story. One thing I really liked about this book was how the author talked directly to the reader. I thought that this gave the impression that the author was actually telling the reader the story, rather than the reader just reading about the story on his own. It made the story seem more like a fairytale, which fit in with how import the fairytale in the story was to Despereaux. Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was that it was split into sections. I really liked that each book pertained to a different character rather than just having the chapters jump back and forth because it was a lot easier to keep all of the stories straight that way. ( )
  MelissaPatek | Mar 10, 2014 |
I thought this was a wonderful novel for several reasons. First, the author refers to the reader throughout the story. This engages the reader and sparks interest in the story. The author also uses vocabulary words that are unfamiliar to the reader, even myself. When these words appear in the story, the author will either define it or tell the reader to go look it up in a dictionary. For example, the author used the word “perfidy” to describe the act of betrayal done by Lester Tilling to Despereaux. The author states, “Reader, do you know what “perfidy” means? I have a feeling you d, based on the little scene that has just unfolded here. But you should look up the word in your dictionary, just to be sure” (p. 45). So, of course I looked up the word in the dictionary and found it meant deceitfulness. I think this is a great way to have students involved in the expansion of their vocabulary. Another aspect of this book I loved was the clear theme of light vs. darkness. Themes of a story are a topic usually taken on by older children. Themes can often be hard to identify, but this book made it very clear that there was references to light as representing love, hope, and knowledge, and darkness representing evil, danger, and hopelessness. Having clear themes is a great way to introduce students to this literature topic. I also noticed that the end of the book had Literature Circle questions. I loved having questions already available for discussion. This would also be helpful for small book clubs to use for guided discussion. The message of this book was harder to identify because of the several different characters and perspectives in the books, but I think the point was to show how forgiveness could save your life. The only way Princess Pea was able to leave the dungeon was by forgiving Miggery and Roscuro for kidnapping her and inviting Roscuro to eat soup with her. She could have stayed angry with them forever and Roscuro would have never led her out of the dungeon. Even Despereaux forgave his father, who sent him to the dungeon for talking to a human. This story was excellent and adorable, and is a great read for both boys and girls. ( )
  EmilySadler | Mar 5, 2014 |
I adored this book! The first reason I loved this book is for the physical features of the book itself. The illustrations on the front and back cover of the book resemble that of a book created in medieval times. The background of the covers is a light, watercolor pattern and, on the front cover, there is a very detailed, pencil-drawn, picture of Despereaux, one of the main characters of the book. The font that is used for the title of the book looks as if it was written with a quill pen. In addition to these marvelous illustrations, the pages of the book are varying lengths and the ends of the pages are slightly ruffled, making the book look and feel old. These physical aspects of the outside cover and pages were so amazing to me that they are what made to choose to read the book! The second reason I loved this book is how the reader is written into the story. Throughout the book, the author wrote the text in a way that made the reader their own character, as if they were being read to as the story went on. For example, at the end of some of the chapters, the book would say phrases like “But, reader, he was not smelling” or “Reader, you must know that an interesting fate…awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.” By utilizing phrases such as these, the author was able to make the narrator of the book talk to the reader, making the story more personable and interesting for me to read. There were several big ideas strung within the text of this book. First, there was the idea that although someone may not completely conform to the social norms of society, that does not mean that person is wrong in their thinking. This was shown when Despereaux was exiled to the dungeon for talking with the princess of the castle, as act that was heavily frowned upon in the mouse society. In the end, this was not a wrong act because the mice saw Despereaux happy and safe while talking and living with the princess. Another big idea of this book was to not judge someone based off of what they look like. Characters such as Despereaux, Miggory, and Roscuro were all judged based off of being too small, too dumb, or too dirty and were treated differently because of these differences. However, at the end of the book, all each of them wanted was to have their own “light” in their lives, whether that is a princess, to be a princess, or to be free to do as they wish. Despite their dramatically different physiques, the main characters all wanted the same thing, proving that although someone may look very different from you, if you put that aside and judge them by who they are and not what they look like, you may find similarities you never know exists between you and them. ( )
  mspisa1 | Mar 4, 2014 |
An enchanting and sometimes hauntingly dark tale of how a simple wish can lead to complete sorrow, or into a life filled with light. A cast of misfit characters come together on the light side of things to discover a new way to live full of happiness. Who knew living in a beautiful castle could be so dangerous and that the mere sight of a rat could kill you? Reader, you must pick up this book!
  gradschool14 | Feb 26, 2014 |
This book is about a mouse who comes to the open and starts talking to a princess. In the end Despereax saves the princess and they become great friends. I like this book because it has adventure in every corner. I also enjoyed how the princess changed to greedy and selfish to kind and caring. I suggest this book to everyone who likes adventure and fairytale and friendship even if it isn't between a human and human. ( )
  MaeJ | Feb 25, 2014 |
Heroes come in all sizes, and this story is full of heroes, though some of these heroes need to make bad choices before recognizing who they truly are. Despereaux is the prominent hero in the story. He is a small mouse with very large ears. He is also a mouse that believes in chivalry and bravery, and when he sees Princess Pea, he falls in love with her. The plot itself is rather complex. There are multiple stories going along at once. DiCamillo weaves these different story lines together in a way that avoids confusion. Short chapters will also help young readers gather their thoughts between scenes. This is a title that could be read as a child and then read again as an adult. There are a lot of important messages that younger children may not pick up on, but that adults will appreciate. Some of these messages may make good discussions between children and parents. Children may be able to easily relate to the animal characters. Though the two main animal characters are both male, girls will also appreciate this book. Children particularly interested in animals may like this book. This is also a good adventure tale and has a fairy-tale feeling.
  foraclass | Feb 22, 2014 |
I love this little mouse and his big ole ears! ( )
  mlyons1 | Feb 12, 2014 |
* Creative voice - although, dear reader, it gets a bit tiresome at times. Still, an engaging narrator who sprinkles bits of life wisdom and true observations throughout. Which is how the world works, after all, wouldn't you agree?

* Affirming message - although forgiveness is given a postmodern spin in that we're told by the narrator that its primary purpose is to heal the victim. That's fine but, while important, isn't the primary purpose of forgiveness.

* Great characterization - even though I haven't seen the movie, the book read like a film in my mind. Wonderfully described and visualized, integrating symbols and color symbolism, Dante's journey to the underworld, and the Christian worldview of good versus evil into a well crafted children's story.

* Recommended for late elementary/early middle school - and for the child-like of all ages. ( )
  ResAliens | Feb 6, 2014 |
This one was alot darker than I expected. I would definitely recommend it for older children.

"Reader, you must know that an interesting fate awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform." ( )
  Emelymac | Jan 15, 2014 |
There has been a lot of buzz about this book in recent years, and I know a movie even came out a few years ago. My son checked it out from the school library, so I decided it was time to give it a read.

The storyteller voice is excellent. The illustrations are superb. The story irritated the heck out of me. Very little is about Despereaux. It's a love story, in an odd way, with a mouse falling in love with a girl. I was appalled at how the females were handled in the book, both mouse and human. They most all fainted, were punching bags for abusive men, or were so simpering in the way that they were good that it made me want to scream. The ending. Oh, the ending. I read it in disbelief. It's idealistic and the message of it appalled me. (Yes, make a nice meal for the fellow who attempted to murder you, because you're such a nice and empathetic girl.)

I like it when lead characters are genuinely good people. But here... it really rubbed me the wrong way. And Miggery Sow's character, what she endured, how the story ended for her, made me genuinely angry. ( )
  ladycato | Jan 12, 2014 |
Read on December 28, 2013

After reading Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures and finding it good-not-great, I thought I would check out Despereaux -- it's the one everyone talks about, right?

This is very cute and very sweet, but I had the same problem with it as I did with Flora & Ulysses -- I just don't get the hype.

Of course, I'm not the correct age group to "Get It" either. Children LOVE these books and that's what matters. So I like them, they're cute books. (Though I was surprised by how similar the two books are.) ( )
  melissarochelle | Jan 1, 2014 |
Partner Book assignment ( )
  auhaddad | Dec 10, 2013 |
Although this story is written as a letter to the reader, it can still be called a classic, modern fairy tale. The little mouse who is born with big ears and a love for reading and music is banished to the dungeon of the castle by his disappointed father, but never gives up hope that one day he will rescue his princess and live happily ever after, in spite of being rejected as a young mouse. He becomes friends with a human, and when she gets kidnapped, he must become brave enough to rescue her, especially when he realizes that he is the only one who can perform the task. Along the way, there are the typical brawls, adventures, and the overcoming of evil that is characteristic of a classic fairy tale, which my daughters loved, and so did I. This would be a great addition to a classroom library or when used as a read aloud, or to contribute to or springboard a discussion involving forgiveness, hope, confidence in oneself, and bravery. ( )
  SweetBeeBecky | Dec 3, 2013 |
This is such a sweet and cleverly written book with unlikely heroes and diabolical evil-doers. We recently went to see the movie, which was nowhere near as wonderful as the book. The literary tale of Despereaux is destined to be a classic and rightfully so. ( )
  daatwood | Nov 21, 2013 |
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