Ungelic_is_us's Reviews > The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
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's review
Nov 23, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: annoying, crap-general, fairy-tale, fantasy, hated-it, ya

I don't understand why this book is so well-liked, or why it would win a Newberry. I found it irritatingly condescending. My inner 8-year-old wanted to scream every time the narrator addressed me as 'dear reader' with some ridiculous, down-talking explanation. The "evil" rats were ludicrous, humorous, and not at all frightening--except when they were simply horrifying. The hero was pathetic in a way that was meant to be inspiring, but simply came off as irritating. And Miggery Sow, a sadly accurate portrait of what a lifetime of child-abuse can produce, was truly pitiful--but there were moments when I felt like the narrator meant us to find her despicable or funny. It wasn't funny. It was just sad.

Maybe part of the problem was tone whiplash: the narration was saccharine, condescending and super-sweet, but the content was really dark. I'm ok with dark, even in kids' stuff--but if you're going to write dark, then match your tone.

Or maybe it was just that the book felt so self-conscious: as though the author wanted to point out at ever moment: "Look! I'm being cute! Look! I'm teaching a lesson! Look, I'm imitating other successful authors and AREN'T I CLEVER?!"

So much about this book was frustrating: it's right up my alley. Chivalrous mice with a love for stories! C'mon, people, I loved Redwall as a kid, this should be the book for me. But alas, there was sooooooooo much wrong with this book. It felt like a wasted opportunity.

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