Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

The Tale of Despereaux book cover

The Tale of Despereaux (2003)

being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread

A Newbery Medal book

Candlewick Press paperback
illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
270 pages (left)

Publisher's summary:
       This is the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea.  It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in darkness but covets a world filled with light.  And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl with a simple, impossible wish.  These characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and ultimately, into each other's lives.

From review:
       Kate DiCamillo...spins a tidy tale of mice and men where she explores the "powerful, wonderful, and ridiculous" nature of love, hope, and forgiveness.  Her old-fashioned, somewhat dark story, narrated "Dear Reader"-style, begins "within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse."  Despereaux Tilling, the new baby mouse, is different from all other mice.  Sadly, the romantic, unmouselike spirit that leads the unusually tiny, large-eared mouse to the foot of the human king and the beautiful Princess Pea ultimately causes him to be banished by his own father to the foul, rat-filled dungeon.
       The first book of four tells Despereaux's sad story, where he falls deeply in love with Princess Pea and meets his cruel fate.  The second book introduces another creature who differs from his peers -- Chiaroscuro, a rat who instead of loving the darkness of his home in the dungeon, loves the light so much he ends up in the castle and in the queen's soup.  The third book describes young Miggery Sow, a girl who has been "clouted" so many times that she has cauliflower ears.  Still, all the slow-witted, hard-of-hearing Mig dreams of is wearing the crown of Princess Pea.  The fourth book returns to the dungeon-bound Despereaux and connects the lives of mouse, rat, girl, and princess in a dramatic denouement.

Read for group discussion on December 9, 2009

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 7 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri - Barb -
Aaron 7 Cynthia -
Jackie 7.5 Ron 8

The Tale of Despereaux movie DVD cover The Tale of Despereaux (2008), animated movie

Voice actors include Matthew Broderick as Despereaux; Emma Watson as Princess Pea; Dustin Hoffman as Roscuro; Tracy Ullman as Miggery Sow; and Kevin Kline as Andre.

Universal Pictures. Directed by Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen. Rated G.
Screenwriters: Gary Ross, Will McRobb, Chris Viscardi.  Running time 93 minutes.
Tagline : Small Hero. Big Heart.

Kate DiCamillo (1964-    ) is a US children's author.

2001 Newbery Honor, Because of Winn-Dixie
2001 National Book Award finalist, youth category, The Tiger Rising
2004 Newbery Medal, The Tale of Despereaux

-- Because of Winn-Dixie (2000)
-- The Tiger Rising (2001)
-- The Tale of Despereaux (2003)
-- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (2006)
-- The Magician's Elephant (2009)

Mercy Watson series, about a fictional pig, Early Chapter Books:
-- Mercy Watson to the Rescue (2005)
-- Mercy Watson Fights Crime (2006)
-- Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride (2006)
-- Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise (2007)
-- Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig (2008)
-- Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes (2009)

Picture Books:
-- Great Joy (2007)
-- Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken (2008)

Kate DiCamillo - home page
Kate DiCamillo - Wikipedia

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This page was last updated December 14, 2009