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Tales of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
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Tales of Desperaux (2003)

by Kate DiCamillo

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6,943351519 (4.11)189
leithe's review
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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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In my opinion, I thought that this was a very well written, entertaining book. I loved how DiCamillo had written the story entirely in second person—a strategy that I find is seldom used in literature. The narrator of the story would say, “Reader, do you know what ‘perfidy’ means?...You should look up the word in your dictionary, just to be sure.” Second person made the story a more interactive in a way than if it were only written in first or third person. I also liked how there were illustrations dispersed throughout the book. It was interesting to see a part of a scene in drawing form. For example, there is a drawing of Gregory holding Despereaux in his hand. This was a good visual for me to know what Gregory looked like, and how tiny Despereaux actually was in comparison to a human. I think that all the illustrations definitely aided the text. Finally, I liked the different perspectives that were highlighted in the story. It was interesting to see the perspectives and backstory of Despereaux, Roscuro, and Mig. It was interesting to see how all three of their stories would eventually come together in the end. I thought that DiCamillo did a fantastic job in weaving the individual stories together. After reading this book, the big idea is that determination and bravery can be rewarding and that heroes can be any size. ( )
  GaiaGonzales | Oct 20, 2014 |
This is one of those books that you can read over and over again, it tells the story of a tiny mouse named Desperaux and how he saved his princess. The story is told from the view point of four different characters which is why I love it so much, you get the whole story and this allows readers to see that there are two and sometimes four sides to every story. I would use this for readers around grade 4 and all the way through grade 8. This story is full of life and adventure, it is great for teaching the different viewpoints of a novel.
  SaraJoslin | Oct 19, 2014 |
"The Tale of Despereaux" is a story of adventure and forgiveness. It is a story that breathes life into the modern tropes of the fantasy genre. I love this novel and appreciate it even moreso now that I have read it for the second time (the first being in 5th grade). Only now do I realize how short the book actually is. This has expanded my understanding about just how much is contained within this book. This book is very good to read to 4th,5th, and even 6th graders wither by itself, or as a read aloud. One aspect of the book that I really liked was the author's introduction of vocabulary words throughout the novel. It provides the words and their context without actually defining them. For example, in the book, the author introduces the word "perfidy" with out giving a definition. The author is aware that the word "perfidy" is a word most likely that the reader does not know. While teaching vocabulary words is not the main focus of this novel, it is an interesting aspect of it that gives the book character and a clever feel to it. One last thing that I loved about the novel was that while it follows the fantasy trope of "knight saves princess" with even the trope itself being a main theme and something that the main character constantly reminds himself of, it breaks from this trope near the end. In the end it is not Despereaux himself who saves the princess, but the princess herself. This book is about how while bad things may happen, it is through forgiveness that we find peace. The princess demonstrates this by forgiving the rat who inadvertently killed her mother. This is why I love this book as it is one that teaches about love and most of all forgiveness to those who wish for it. ( )
  MattM50 | Oct 14, 2014 |
I generally liked this book. It was very entertaining and I really enjoyed the character Despereaux. One of my favorite things about this book is how the author writes directly to the reader. She would stop the story and ask the reader to think about parts of the story, and get them involved. For example, after defining the word quest the author writes, “Say it reader. Say the word quest out loud. It is an extraordinary word, isn’t it? So small and yet so full of wonder, so full of hope.” At the end of most of the chapters the author often stops to write to the reader directly. It is unlike any book I have ever read and it actually gets the reader involved. One thing I did not like about this book it some of the language. A lot of the dialogue was written in Old English and it was a little hard to comprehend. Also, whenever Mig spoke it was a little difficult to understand. For example on page 164 Mig says, “Done are you? Then the tray goes back upstairs Cook says it must.” Mig also says the word “Gor” before speaking throughout the book which was a bit confusing. One other phrase that took me a little while to understand was “clout to the ear”. I have never heard of this phrase before so I didn’t understand what it meant until the author described Mig’s ears as being deformed from being hit. Other than the language in this book, I generally liked the story. The big idea in this book is that you can do whatever you put your mind to and love conquers all. ( )
  HeatherBallard | Oct 8, 2014 |
One of my favorite chapter books growing up, the cute, spunky mouse tells the story of his adventures and how he rescues his princess. One thing that is interesting about this book is how it is separated into 4 sections and each one is told in a different point of view. This is good for young readers because it changes up the story and lets them see how it is told in a different light.
  Jclark5 | Oct 1, 2014 |
This is the story of a tiny little mouse, Despereaux, whose big ears and gentle sensibilities cause him to not be accepted by his peers or even by his family. He loves the beautiful things of life, music, stories, sweetness and friendship. He is drawn towards light and beauty. He falls in love with the sweet princess who lives upstairs. The story tells of their adventure upstairs in the light and down in the dreary dungeon where live some horrible rats. It's a tale of self-sacrifice as Despereaux risks his own life to save the Princess Pea. Might be an opportunity to talk with children about ways to accept people who are different or not like them. ( )
  barbarapatt | Sep 19, 2014 |
My opinion about the book is that it is a book full of adventure. The adventure is very interesting and very good. I like how this one little mouse is so brave. I think he has a very good heart for doing all of these things. Even though he was picked on he didnt care and just kept beliving. Just until he does this very brave and dangerous thing. Every body loved him afterword and was very happy.
summery
The tale of despereaux is about a mouse that saves a princess. Despereaux was a child of a mother mouse but was much stranger from all the other mise. He was born smaller than any other mouse and his ears are huge. He was picked on by other mise because of his size and his incredably large ears but even though he was small and had big ears he has a good heart. One ordinary day there was a slave of a princess that was convinced by the horrible enemy of the mise, the rats to capture the princes. Once she captured the princess she was locked away in a sell. Despereaux was good friends with the princess and found out she was captured. Despereaux grabed a needle and string as a wepon to fight the rats and save the princess. At the end he saves the princess and everyone cheers for the little brave mouse calling him a hero.
  audrich.b3 | Sep 15, 2014 |
Adorable! ( )
  bookwormam | Jul 8, 2014 |
I loved Despereaux. He is timid, but brave, and a great problem solver. ( )
  Tina_Ervin | Jun 24, 2014 |
Reading The Tale of Despereaux to my children (age nearly 5 and 6) was the best reading experience we have had so far and the first that was a "real" enough book that I'm entering it in my library.

The language in the story is beautiful, the plot keeps you moving along--enough that is predictable that you can follow it, but also many surprises and twists. It is a good introduction to nonlinear storytelling, as each of the successive parts begins earlier than the first and then they all converge together. And the characters are all flawed, but ultimately a combination of hope, forgiveness, storytelling and the metaphorical and literal light win out. But not in a complete happily-ever-after way, but in a complex and mixed way.

In all of these ways, it is a good antidote to the black-and-white good and evil and the happily ever after of Disney. It taught my children about virtues and faults, while fully entertaining all of us.

It looks like most of Kate DiCamillo's other chapter books are a little old for them, but that won't stop me from reading them on my own. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
Beautifully written children's book about courage, hope and forgiveness. Loved how the stories about the three characters blended together to tell a great tale. Enough adventure to keep boys and girls alike interested in the book with strong lessons about being true to oneself, hope and love that serve as a good moral compass. I really enjoyed this story. ( )
  sschaller | May 30, 2014 |
I liked The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. I though the book was interesting especially it's format telling the story of Desperaux, Roscuro and Mig separately and than bring them all together in the final book. I enjoyed how each character had their own sad story Mig being sold by her father for only a pack of cigarettes , Roscuro who escapes the dungeons only to be caught and sent back and Despereaux who is banished to the dungeons for his encounter with the princess. The author does a good job showing us how each responds differently especially Despereaux who perseveres and ion the end saves the princess form Roscuro's vengefulness. The theme of overcoming hardship and bravery is demonstrated well through Despereaux's decisions and actions. ( )
  awhite43 | May 14, 2014 |
Probably one of my favorite children's books I have ever read. It was so uniquely set up because it was broken into different sections about the most important characters. I like how the whole book was being tied together near the end of each part, or if the parts overlapped to show different perspectives. It was so entertaining and engaging that it did not even seem like a big book. I liked how she included illustrations every once and a while, especially of the the main characters in the story. It was nice to have a solid visual in your mind as you were reading so much about each of the characters. The main message was about bravery from the most unlikely source. I loved how she narrator talked to the reader in the story, makes the reader connect with the story and also made the story feel childlike, such as, “Say it, reader. Say the word 'quest' out loud. It is an extraordinary word, isn't it? So small and yet so full of wonder, so full of hope.” Personally makes me smile every time I was spoken to in such a way by a story. I like how the story showed the world just in the castle; how there is good, the light upstairs, and the bad, the basement. I liked the good message that the author brought across with that. Just a very excellent book. ( )
  kwiggi3 | May 6, 2014 |
I greatly enjoyed reading this chapter. One aspect that I really enjoyed about this book is that it was about an unlikely hero. Being that the story is about the courageous acts of an extremely tiny mouse with giant ears is quite entertaining and likely to be the story of an unlikely hero. The second aspect that I enjoyed about this book was the narration. I thoroughly enjoyed that the narrator talked to the reader throughout the story. For example the narrator says “Reader, nothing is sweeter in this sad world than the sound of someone you love calling your name.” I found this aspect of the book to really bringing the story alive for me. I believe this is the greatest part of this book. The main message of this story is that heroes may come from unlikely places but they can still bring light to darkness no matter their size. ( )
  kjacob9 | May 5, 2014 |
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread was a rather enchanting tale. It had an Arthurian quality to it with little mouse Despereaux acting the knight and falling in courtly love with the human Princess Pea. Many adventures happen all told in wonderful prose.

The story opens with Derpereaux, who is born with his eyes open and doesn't behave much like a mouse. He doesn't scurry or focus only on food. He reads stories that begin with "Once upon a time..." and loves the colored light through the stained glass windows and to listen to music. This un-mousely behavior has him branded as an outcast by mouse society and cast out.

The story then tells of Chiaroscuro, a rat from the dungeon that wishes only to see and be close to the light — a desire that leads him to disaster and has him longing for revenge.

Another key character is Miggery Sow, a young girl who is abused to the point she has cauliflower ears that can barely hear at all. She longs for the glitter of being a princess. Migs was the hardest for me to read about, because her life and her character seemed so unfair.

I was a little uncomfortable with the fact that in the book the beautiful seem to be good and noble, while the ugly seem to be bad or at least stupid. And yet, it's Chiaroscuro and Migs that I felt the most sympathy for, as they seemed to have the most depth of character. Also, the story shows that forgiveness and kindness can lead to peace and hope. ( )
  andreablythe | Apr 23, 2014 |
Every fairytale needs a villain. But how often do you feel such deep feelings of empathy for the villain that you understand why he does everything he does? This story is called The Tale of Despereaux but it is also the tale of Roscuro, our aforementioned villain, Miggery Sow, the slow-witted serving girl who just wants to be a princess, and the beautiful Princess Pea, grieving for her dead mother, the queen.

DiCamillo weaves a beautiful tale of a banished, lovestruck mouse names Despereaux who falls in love with Princess Pea, the human whose family lives in the castle that is also shared with Despereaux's family and the other mice, and also the evil rats who inhabit the dungeons. Their lives are all intertwined - only they don't realise it. And when something terrible happens to the princess, it is up to the brave Despereaux to save them all. DiCamillo shows each character's story in equal light and the reader is able to feel for each of them involved. Each character is beautiful in their sadness but don't worry - of course there is a happy ending!

The themes of courage and forgiveness are central to this children's novel, which I argue can easily be enjoyed by all ages despite the large type and somewhat simplistic language. It reads like a fairytale and is an enchanting tale. Beautiful. ( )
  crashmyparty | Apr 22, 2014 |
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 |
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