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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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6,860346536 (4.11)187
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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Showing 1-25 of 344 (next | show all)
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 |
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 |
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