Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
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's review
Jun 20, 2010

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bookshelves: audiobook, fantasy, school-related-reading, lsc530, library, middle-grade
Read from June 11 to 14, 2010

It's obvious from the moment he's born that Despereaux is not a normal mouse. But when he breaks the most important mouse rule, and speaks to a human Princess, the mouse community finds they cannot forgive him and sends him to the dungeon. How will Despereaux escape his cruel fate and get back to his true love, the Princess Pea? The Tale of Despereaux is a charming little novel that reveals in traditional fairy tales themes, such as Princesses in danger, brave knights, and happily ever after. Although it may possess the magic of of a fairy tale, DiCamillo takes a different route when it comes to characterization. Instead of merely presenting the audience with a tale of simplistic fearless knight, and menacing villains, DiCamillio takes the time to create three-dimensional characters for ever major player in the book, even breaking away from Desperaux's story for lengthy periods of time to fully tell the villains back stories. Warm, friendly themes about forgiveness and family permeate the novel, and although these themes may feel a little heavy handed at times, the book is rather enjoyable. Another interesting element comes from the presence of the narrator, who often breaks the fourth wall to speak to the reader about what's going on in the story, and to define key words. The audiobook version of the book is narrated by Graeme Malcolm, who does a fine job of crafting different voices for the cast of characters. His comforting British voice is well cast for such a warm novel.

Children used to the action packed mouse-filled Redwall series, may find the novel to be a little too warm and fuzzy, but the novel should appeal to fans of animal stories and happy endings.
Recommended Grade Level- 2-5
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