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Tales of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo

Tales of Desperaux (2003)

by Kate DiCamillo

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7,109371505 (4.11)191
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 |
English (366)  German (2)  All languages (368)
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In my opinion, this is a great book. I liked this book for multiple reasons. First, I liked that the book spoke directly to its readers. The author paused and talked to the reader or asked questions like, “Reader, do you believe that there is such a thing as happily ever after? Or, like Despereaux, have you, too, begun to question the possibility of happy endings?” This made me more engaged in the reading because I felt like I was a part of the story. Also, it made me think more about the story and question what I was thinking and believed. Second, I liked how the audience can connect easily to this book. Since Despereaux was a mouse, he was obligated to “understand the sacred never to be broken rules of conduct of being a mouse.” I feel that everyone can relate to Despereaux and how he was told what to do and how to act. Third, I liked the descriptive language used in the book. The author used words like, “His father looked so small, so sad.” I liked this quote a lot because to me it used a new way to describe what being sad is like. The author used the word “small” to show how being sad can make you feel out of place or invisible. I think the main idea of this book was to encourage people to go for what they want and to be courageous and determined. ( )
  LaurenVormack | Mar 30, 2015 |
I really loved this book. One of the main reasons I loved this book is not only just because of the story line, but because the author keeps the "reader" involved as the story is going on. For example, throughout the book, the author "checks in" with the reader by saying things like, "reader, do you know what 'perfidy' means? I have a feeling you do, based on the little scene that has just unfolded here. But you should look up the word in your dictionary, just to be sure." I liked these parts of the story best because it really felt like I was apart of the story, and not just reading it. Another aspect of the story that I liked is that the author made both Despereaux and Roscuro outcasts. For example, Despereaux was born with his eyes open, too big ears, and he was ridiculously small. Not only that, but Despereaux could read, unlike the other mice, and didn't want to do things like regular mice did. For example, he didn't want to scurry like the other mice, and he wanted to be with the Princess and this was illegal in "mouse world." Roscuro was in a sort the same. He was an outcast as well. For example, he originally didn't want to be evil, manipulative, and torturous like the other rats. He saw the light and wanted to go to it, he was fascinated. I really like how the author separated this novel into "books." For example, you have the first book about Despereaux, the second book focuses on Roscuro, and the third book focuses on Miggery Sow and throughout the novel you start to see all of the books come together as three similar stories that all tie together. For example, Despereaux starts out as being the only character that we know. By Roscuro's book we are now speaking of Despereaux and Roscuro. Finally, Miggery Sow's book ties all three of them together and the last book is the merge of all three.

The big message/idea I think was the idea of darkness and light. The novel really emphasizes these two ideas where the light is always in reference to the mice and the darkness is always in reference to the rats. For example, "a rat born into the filth and darkness of the dungeon, several years before the mouse Despereaux was born upstairs, in the light." Also, I think another important message is to never give up on your dreams, no matter how impossible it may seem. Despereaux was sent to the dungeon because he interacted with the princess and was told that he was not truly a mouse. He escaped the dungeon and went on to save the princess because he kept telling himself he would achieve that, "happily ever after" that he read about. He never stopped pushing until he saved the princess. ( )
  LexaGoldbeck | Mar 30, 2015 |
There are a few reasons why I liked this book. One reason was I liked that the author asked questions throughout the story. For example, she would ask, “Reader, do you know what this means?” I think that this kept readers engaged and a child reading this book may feel more connected because they may feel as if the author cares. I also liked this book because there wasn’t just one point of view, there were three- Despereaux, Roscuoro, and Miggery. You were able to hear how the others felt and didn’t have to guess how they felt. I also liked this book of how the author portrayed the theme/big idea throughout. The big idea was light and darkness, and every time the author spoke about the mice, it was related to light. Every time the author spoke about the rats, it was related to darkness. For example, “…a rat born into the filth and darkness of the dungeon, several years before the mouse Despereaux was born upstairs, in the light”. This comparison is constantly portrayed throughout the story. ( )
  KellieMcFadzen | Mar 29, 2015 |
I really enjoyed reading this chapter book, The Tale of Despereaux. One aspect of the story that I love is the fact that the author of the story continuously talks directly to the reader. At several points in the story, the narration of will pause and the author will ask the reader a question, define an important word, sum up past events, or give a hint as to what is to come. In one instance, the author says, “Reader, do you know what perfidy means?” The author, Kate DiCamillo, goes on to advise the reader to look up the word in the dictionary because it will have an essential role in the rest of the story. I believe that this approach allows the reader to become more engrossed in the story and to feel as if he or she is a part of the story. Another aspect of this book that I loved was the development of three similar stories through three different characters. A mouse named Despereaux, a rat named Roscuro, and a girl named Miggery Sow are all characters who feel different and as if they don't belong. However, they are true to themselves and believe that their dreams can come true. The fact that this similar story takes place through three different characters allows the ideas to come through to the reader more strongly.

The big ideas of this story have to do with being true to oneself and the power of love. ( )
  CarrieHardesty | Mar 29, 2015 |
The Tale of Desperaux is a chapter book about abnormally small mouse with an unusual interest in fairy tales and humans. The mouse in lives in a castle and falls in love with the princess. The rest of the mouse community then shuns him to the dungeon, where he must live in darkness with rats and prisoners. Once Desperaux hears that the beloved princess is in danger the little mouse goes on a “quest” to save her.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It does feature some pencil illustrations that give the reader a better idea of the author’s message. For example, when Roscuro, the rat from the dungeon, finds the queen’s spoon he says, “I will have a crown of my own,” and proceeds to place the spoon on his head. For me, this was hard to imagine but the very detailed illustrations were very successful in bringing this action to life.
I also liked this book because the author pushes the reader to imagine tough situations and develops a sense of empathy for the characters. For instance, one of the characters, Miggery Sow, was six years old her own father in exchange for a pack of cigarettes, a blanket, and thirty dollars sold her to a man. The author directly asked the reader to imagine if they had been sold like Miggery Sow was. This is a powerful question that triggers thought and emotions. Similar to this questions there are many more times that the author engages the reader by addressing them directly such as, “Reader, do you know what ‘perfidy’ means?” This kept me very interested as I read the book and I would definitely recommend reading it. ( )
  nlinco1 | Mar 29, 2015 |
I liked this book because it was told in different perspectives, the first chapter was Despereaux, then Roscuro, Miggery Sow, and then all together. This way of telling the story is great because it allows for the reader to get to know each individual character well, and provides multiple interpretations of the same story! I also liked this book because it had a typical happy ending, much like a fairytale. In the end Despereaux becomes Princess Pea's friend and a hero to the kingdom, and soup is returned to the kingdom menu. The story seems to basically work out for everyone and I like books that leave you uplifted. The big idea of this book was forgiveness, time and time again the characters show that if you forgive life will be better! ( )
  jcuttitta | Mar 24, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this fairy tale like story. The first thing I liked about the story was how it included stories from a mouse named Despereaux Tilling, a rat named Roscuro and a servant girl named Miggy Sow. The three different characters really contributed to bring the story to life bringing all different perspectives and feelings. The three different perspectives also keep the readers interested to see what happens to all three characters and how they relate. When a book consists of many points of view, you can not only see the positives and light in the story but the harsh negatives that lie through other point of views. For example, from Despereaux’s perspective the dungeon is the worst place and are full of mean rats but Roscuro was born in the dungeon and doesn’t picture himself as a mean rat at all.
I also enjoyed how the story every now and then included illustrations for the reader’s reference. Most chapter books do not include any pictures but this book contained just enough pictures to help the reader imagine each character and the events. For example, when Despereaux was first born, the author included a picture for the reader to see how Despereaux’s eyes were wide open.
The big idea in this story was about love and forgiveness. For the reader, it seems that everybody in the story makes mistakes but people can change for the better and with love anything can happen for anyone whether it be a human, rat or mouse. ( )
  Toconn2 | Mar 23, 2015 |
Summary: This book tells of a mouse that falls in love with a human princess and his journey to happiness.

Reflection: I'm not a fan of mice, but this is a cute story. I like that the three tales come together.

Extension: Good ready for children's literature.
  Rebecca90 | Mar 22, 2015 |
Personal Response: Kate DiCamillo is my favorite children's author, so I liked this novel before I even started reading! The sweetness of the mouse, the desperation of Miggory and Roscuro, and the ending triumph and tragedies hold the reader throughout the book. It is a story of justice, love, and courage.

Curricular Connections: More than a specific curricular plan (which is certainly possible), I would use this as a simple read-aloud. The novel lends itself to personal introspection, growth, and assessing our treatment of others. Much conversation could arise, potentially bonding the readers together.
  LeslieRivver | Mar 14, 2015 |
this cute tale of a mouse rescuing a princess can teach kids many important lessons about working hard for what you want, not taking no for an answer, and following your dreams. This would be good to read as a class as well.
  harleybrenton | Mar 12, 2015 |
I loved this book. From the characters and setting to the plot. The characters in this story are from all different walks of life. There is a mouse that lives in the castle, a woman who works as a servant in the castle, and the princess in the castle. We see the different lives of each one and how they are eventually connected. There are aspects of each character that the students can relate to. The second thing I really liked was the setting. It takes place in a royal castle, which lets my imagination go crazy. I can just imagine the intricate details of the castle. I come up with an image of my own using the details in the book, along with my imagination. I really liked this book and I am glad I read it before the movie came out. The main ideas or lessons of this book are spread throughout. There are a lot from lessons on love, life, and forgiveness. ( )
  tbarne9 | Mar 11, 2015 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for several reasons. I liked how the author tells the story from three perspectives. The story is told from the views of Despereaux, Miggery Sow, and Roscuro. This helps the reader understand all the perspectives of the story. I also liked how all of the characters connected to each other. For example, Miggery Sow’s father was taken to the dungeon where Princess Pea lives. Roscuro steals the red cloth from Miggery Sow’s father. Before the author connected the characters, each story could make the reader more curious and interested to keep reading. I also liked how the author spoke directly to the audience/reader. The author used the word “Reader” every time she wanted to distinctly tell the reader information. This makes the reader feel like he or she has a role in the story. It also emphasizes ideas that are discussed in that certain topic. The big idea of the story is to follow your dreams even if the dream seems impossible. ( )
  ktran4 | Mar 9, 2015 |
This is about a Rat named Roscuro. Roscuro frightens the queen. The queen dies. The princess is now sad and lonely. Because of the tragic circumstances of her mother's death soup as well as rats are banned throughout the kingdom. Despereaux is very smart, and figures out how to get soup back and a kiss from the princess in a lively tale. This has also been adapted to a movie that children enjoy. grade 4-6
  RachelHollingsworth | Feb 27, 2015 |
It is about a mouse who saves a princess.This story takes place in a castle.It all starts with a mouse born in a castle.This mouse meets a princess.Since he met a human he is sent to the dungeon.I liked this book because it is a very good story.I would recommend this book.
  SampsonK | Jan 29, 2015 |
The Tale of Despereaux simultaneously chronicles the experiences of a small mouse, a royal family, a rat and a servant girl. The mouse is different than other mice, he reads, he loves music and he loves a human princess. These differences cause him to be betrayed by his own family and banished from the mouse community to the dungeon, where with the help of a kindhearted jailer he is able to escape death and foil a plot to kill the princess. The royal family is happy until the day a rat from the dungeon, who is enamored with light, makes his way to the main dining area where he ultimately falls into the queen's soup and causes her to die instantly. This causes the princess to loath the rat and form hatred in her heart. The rat retreats to his home in the dark, sultry dungeon and while there encounters a man who sold his daughter into slavery after the death of his wife. This brings us to the servant girl. Mig has been mistreated her entire life. Nearly deaf from abuse and not too smart, she dreams of being a princess. This dream leads her to join the rat in a plan to kidnap the princess and take her to the dungeon. Each character in this book faces a crisis point in which he or she must choose to carry hatred and resentment or offer forgiveness. It is through forgiveness that the princess was saved and the characters were able to live happily ever after. This book is a great example to children that we can overcome any obstacles life throws our way if we choose forgiveness instead of harboring bitterness.

Personal Reflection: This story encompasses so many life lessons. From self-worth to betrayal to forgiveness, the author does an amazing job of expressing how intertwined the lives of the characters are and how the actions of each character affects the others. I love the way the author addresses the reader directly and pulls them even more into the story.

Extension Ideas:
1. Each time the author addresses the reader, stop and discuss the main idea and vocabulary presented. Have students predict what they think will happen next.
2. Discuss the issues presented. Self-worth, Forgiveness and Betrayal. Have students write in their journals about a time they have experienced similar feelings.
3. Ask children if they think their actions affect other people? Use examples from the book to show how the actions of each character affected one or more of the other characters.
4. Talk about the King's laws Were they reasonable? How does our government work? How are laws made in our country? ( )
  jn925584 | Jan 13, 2015 |
A delightful story of a brave small mouse who falls in love with a princess. The humor and the style in which this book is written makes this such a delightful book. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Jan 4, 2015 |
Without reservation I can honestly say that “The Tale of Despereaux”, by Kate DiCamillo, is the best read-aloud book I have ever found. It is the unlikely story of a mouse who loves a princess and the journey he takes. He leads us through a castle and its dungeon encountering unforgettable characters along the way. Periodically the author addresses the reader which is engaging for the reader and listener alike. The dialog welcomes the use of accents making it a fun an entertaining read for kids and adults. ( )
  knitwit2 | Dec 20, 2014 |
A cute story, one that really is long enough to make a chapter book. Fun and humorous.
  Climbing-books | Dec 18, 2014 |
A good chapter book for middle schoolers. Tells the story of Despereaux a brave mouse. Also a movie. Would have kids read the book before seeing the movie.
  bzittlosen | Dec 17, 2014 |
I initially chose to read this book because I heard that it had been made into a movie. I assumed that if the book was made into a movie, even if I hadn't seen it yet, it would still be a good story. I am glad to say that my assumptions were correct. Although I have still not seen the movie, the book was excellent!
Although I am not a huge fan of chapter books, I have to admit that this is possibly one of the best that I have ever read. The use of emotion within the text was my favorite. Being different from all of the others, you could sense Desperaux exploring those differences. While the other mice were trying to find food crumbs to eat, Desperaux was reading a book. From reading this book, his whole outlook on life changed. From reading this book, he allowed his emotions to fill up inside him. He wanted to explore the concept of love and of "happily ever after". From reading this book, he was able to gain the courage to talk to the princess, even though it was a forbidden rule among mice. In all reality, the whole adventure that Desperaux went on stemmed from his reading this single book. In a sense, I found this to be somewhat ironic, seeing I am here reading a book about his adventures which all began because he chose to read a book.
The characters were very well developed throughout the book. I enjoyed the way that the author skipped around, often going back in time to introduce a new character. These flashbacks occurred when the author introduced Roscuro and Miggery Sow. I also liked that when each character was introduced, the chapter was written in their perspective. I feel that this allowed the reader to get a real sense of how each character not only came to be, but how all of their pasts indirectly affected each other's future. An example of this is the man that was imprisoned inside the jail happened to be the father of Miggery Sow. A second example of this is that it was Roscuro's fault for why soup had been banned throughout the kingdom. This soup banishment affected Miggery Sow even in her past when the knights men came to collect all of the spoons and bowls from her owner. This is when she was discovered to be a slave and brought to the castle. In a sense, it was Roscuro's actions which indirectly led to Miggery Sow's freedom.
I feel that the overall message of this story is to always be true to yourself, even if others see you differently. At the end of the day, being yourself is what is most important. Being yourself can take you on many different adventures to many different places. It was Desperaux's dream to find a "happy ever after", and even though it wasn't exactly what he thought it would be, he was in fact...happy. I see it was a simple blessing in disguise. ( )
  Andrewturner | Oct 25, 2014 |
  mshampson | Oct 23, 2014 |
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 |
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