The result is a wildly entertaining novel with some important messages about being yourself and redemption. The characters include a very special mouse with an affinity for music, a princess named Pea, and Miggery Sow, a poorly treated, slow-witted serving girl. Since every tale needs a villian, even a sometimes sympathetic one, there is a rat named Roscuro to fill that role. This odd assortment of characters is drawn together because of their desire for something more, but it is Despereaux Tilling, the unlikely hero with large ears, who, along with the narrator, is the star of the show. As the narrator states,
- "Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, man or mouse, who does not conform."
It was interesting to me to see how Kate DiCamillo incorporated several of the central themes of her other two books, parental abandonment and redemption, in The Tale of Despereaux. Parental abandonment comes in several forms in DiCamillo's books: a parent leaving the family forever, a parent dying, or a parent withdrawing emotionally.
However, Despereaux's adventures change the lives of the adults as well as the children and the rat. These changes hinge on forgiveness and again emphasize a central theme: "Every action, reader, no matter how small, has a consequence." I found this an extremely satisfying book, with lots of adventure, wit, and wisdom.
The Tale of Despereaux - My RecommendationThe Tale of Despereaux was first published in 2003 by Candlewick Press. The book itself is beautifully designed, with high-quality paper with torn edges (I am not sure what you call that, but it looks great). It is illustrated with strange and beguiling, dense pencil drawings by Timonthy Basil Ering. Each of the four books of the novel has a title page, with an intricate border by Ering.
On January 12, 2004, Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux was awarded the prestigious 2004 Newbery Medal. According to the American Library Association (ALA), the Newbery Medal is awarded annually "to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."
With the coming of the movie version of The Tale of Despereaux in December 2008, came a number of movie tie-in books and a handsome special boxed edition of The Tale of Despereaux that features color illustrations on both the box and the cover of the book. This special edition of The Tale of Despereaux would make a wonderful gift for any child who cherishes the story and loves to reread or hear it again and again. Compare prices. (ISBN: 9780763629281)