Claire Greene's Reviews > The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
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Apr 30, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended for: EVERYONE!!
Read in January, 2006

I picked this book up on a whim in the Barnes & Noble because I liked the look of the cover and the jagged edges of the paper that gave it a "classic" feel. I was looking for a new bedtime book to read to my children - 2 and 6 at the time. We like to read a bigger book, one chapter each night - for bedtime stories. I read the description and thought it sounded like a good idea so I went ahead and bought it (which is REALLY unusual for me - I can be a cheapskate!) It is by far some of the best money I have ever spent. The book is really that good. While technically a children's story, I could have read this as an adult before I had kids and loved the book just as much - it is a story that is so beautiful, classic and timeless. The thing I think I love the most about her writing style is that she does NOT dumb anything down. Not the language, characters, plot, theme or anything. The style is like a story teller telling you the story, with some asides and speaking to the reader. Which added so much to the story. The book is paced perfectly (there were many nights we all wanted to just keep reading and reading!), and the chapters are perfect breaking points (I would not be surprised at all to find out that she purposefully chose the chapter breaks with nightly reading in mind - there is a wonder cliff hanger feel to each chapter ending. Every night my son would look at me with big eyes and say - I wonder what is going to happen next??!!) The themes are very complex, but everything is understandable even to young children (my 2 year old daughter was able to follow along without too much difficulty - but with a lot of word definitions!) I liked that it dealt with such big themes like duty and love and heartache and redemption and the reality of the world around you. (ie certain characters are not evil but mean, sometimes people do stupid things that you can't fix, etc.) I could go on all day about things that I loved and scenes that were so wonderful i can still see them in my head. We have read this as a family for bedtime stories 3 times now!! And given the chapter a night pace and the size of the book, that is no small feat! This is a book that I will save and give to my grandchildren. I can't recommend it enough!!

Also check out The Journey of Edward Tulane - we loved Despereaux more, but it is a very close call. That book is very similar and also wonderful.
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Reading Progress

03/19/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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Christine I really enjoyed your review. It put into words a lot of the things I felt about the book. I don't have children, but I remember the books I loved as a child and I think this would have been one of them had it been published back then (I'm old). And Thanks for the Edward Tulane recommendation. I put it on my list.


Tori I think this book is one of the best novels I have ever ever read no joke and I read it in third grade by my self!!


Janeen-san You have written a WONDERFUL review about one of the best books of all time.


Tori You truely have written a WONDERFUL book!!



Jannice I just started reading this last night and I LOVE the themes so far. I'm also very interested in child-psychology and while some people believe that some of the themes and incidents that happen are too cruel or "scary" for children, it actually deals with the same sort of issues children deal with (yes, even very loved children). Abandonment, love, redemption, are all important themes to incorporate into children's stories. I love Kate DiCamillo's work!


message 6: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen The jagged edges are also neat because they kind of look like a mouse chewed on them. That's what my five year old daughter told me! :)


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Diene I love this book


lea wagner I loved the book so I read Edward Tulane. I loved both of them so I could not think which was better.


Chad Nelson Loved both those books


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