The author of Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tiger Rising here shifts gears, demonstrating her versatility while once again proving her genius for mining the universal themes of childhood. . . . I must tell you, you are in for a treat.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A charming story of unlikely heroes . . . This expanded fairy tale is entertaining, heartening, and, above all, great fun.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Forgiveness, light, love, and soup. These essential ingredients combine into a tale that is as soul stirring as it is delicious.
—Booklist (starred review)
The melodramatic voice of the narrator glides through DiCamillo's entirely pleasing tale . . . And so unwinds a tale with twists and turns, full of forbidden soup and ladles, rats lusting for mouse blood, a servant who wishes to be a princess, a knight in shining—or at least furry—armor, and all the ingredients of an old-fashioned drama.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
DiCamillo "sets the stage for a battle between the forces of Darkness and Light in The Tale of Despereaux, and the book is a terrific, bravura performance."
—The New York Times Book Review
There is a classic charm to this picaresque tale of an idealistic mouse suffering unrequited love for a princess; that and a pace that lends itself to reading aloud will make this novel a favorite among those ready for some gentle questing.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
DiCamillo tells an engaging tale . . . Many readers will be enchanted by this story of mice and princesses, brave deeds, hearts 'shaded with dark and dappled with light,' and forgiveness.
—The Horn Book
Soul stirring and charming.
Newbery-Honor winning DiCamillo creates the perfect read-aloud with delightful, fanciful characters.
—Child's Best of the Year
This old-fashioned tale is overflowing with good and evil, light and dark, scary adventures, and a happy ending. Ideally read aloud.
—Nick Jr. Family Magazine Best Books of the Year
Chill winds call for hot cocoa and a good book. The Tale of Despereaux serves up 52 chapters bursting with adventure.
I give this book the highest rating: five out of five stars.
Unexpectedly complex in the relationships between its characters, DiCamillo's fable, engagingly illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering, delivers a carefully orchestrated, but not overstated, testament to the power of love and forgiveness.
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Reader, it is his destiny — just as it is for The Tale of Despereaux to become another timeless classic in the once-upon-a-time genre.
This charming adventure by the award-winning author of Because of Winn-Dixie is a story of love, courage and following your heart.
—Detroit Free Press
Read the book aloud. Few recent texts have been designed for that, with multiple plots ticking on, divided into 52 small chapters. And don't forget the coda, a tiny but deft apologia of the imagination.
This charming fairy tale brims with delightful characters.
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
Here once again, loss brings characters together, misfits find a place in the world, and darkness and light swirl together in a not easily divisible mix.
The Tale of Despereaux "has DiCamillo's modern sensibilities, her wry humor, and crystalline prose."
The story is just plain fun to read, but it also explores deeper and darker aspects of parent-child relations, including betrayal, the need for forgiveness and the power of love.
Super Summer Reads: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. A smaller-than-usual mouse falls in love with music, stories, and a Princess named Pea.
A heartwarming and rewarding read, The Tale of Despereaux cheers uniqueness, boos conformity, urges readers to overlook seeming differences, and inspires hope.
With its old-fashioned, fairy tale qualities and whimsical pencil drawings by Timothy Basil Ering, the book is definitely a departure for DiCamillo, but one readers are sure to love.
. . . DiCamillo's new fantasy novel is charming, by turns sad, sweet, and mildly scary.
—Voice of Youth Advocates
Sly style and brilliantly-crafted characters will reward the reader . . .
—The Five Owls
The Barnes & Noble Review
Winner of the 2004 Newbery Medal, this superbly suspenseful tale of a little mouse with big aspirations comes from Kate DiCamillo, author of another Newbery Honor book, Because of Winn-Dixie.
In lilting storytelling language reminiscent of fairy tales of old, DiCamillo spins the yarn of Despereaux Tilling, a literate mouse who lives by a different code and happens to fall in love with a real princess. Despereaux is anxious to profess his love, but when he tells his community of his dreams, he gets banished into the dark dungeon where mice never leave. Adjacent to Despereaux's dilemma is the story of a rat named Chiaroscuro, ruthless in personality and in love with making his way toward light. When these two characters eventually collide -- along with Miggery Sow, a down-and-out servant who aims to become a princess of her own -- the result is a heroic, surprising heartwarmer that brings families together, gives hope to underdogs everywhere, and teems with justice.
Outdoing herself with this simply told yet marvelously complex tale, DiCamillo provides readers with a hero to savor. Timothy Basil Ering's illustrations provide just the right personality to the text, which beckons to be read and reread, even aloud. One fanciful tale to sink your teeth into.
… a terrific, bravura performance.
The author of Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tiger Rising here shifts gears, demonstrating her versatility while once again proving her genius for mining the universal themes of childhood. Her third novel calls to mind Henry Fielding's Tom Jones; DiCamillo's omniscient narrator assumes a similarly irreverent yet compassionate tone and also addresses readers directly. Despereaux, the diminutive mouse hero ("The last mouse born to his parents and the only one of his litter to be born alive"), cares not a whit for such mundane matters as scurrying or nibbling, and disappoints his family at every turn. When his sister tries to teach him to devour a book, for example ("This glue, here, is tasty, and the paper edges are crunchy and yummy, like so"), Despereaux discovers instead "a delicious and wonderful phrase: Once upon a time"-a discovery that will change his life. The author introduces all of the elements of the subtitle, masterfully linking them without overlap. A key factor unmentioned in the subtitle is a villainous rat, Chiaroscuro (dwelling in the darkness of the Princess's dungeon, but drawn to the light). Ering (The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone) brings an understated drama to the black-and-white illustrations that punctuate each chapter. His artwork conveys a respect for the characters even as they emit the wry humor of the narrator's voice. The teller of the tale roots for the hero and thus aligns himself with the audience: "Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform." In addition to these life lessons, the narrator also savors a pointer or two about language (after the use of the word "perfidy," the narrator asks, "Reader, do you know what `perfidy' means? I have a feeling you do, based on the little scene that has just unfolded here. But you should look up the word in your dictionary, just to be sure"). Reader, I will let you imagine, for now, how these witticisms of our omniscient narrator come into play; but I must tell you, you are in for a treat. Ages 7-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Gr 3 Up-A charming story of unlikely heroes whose destinies entwine to bring about a joyful resolution. Foremost is Despereaux, a diminutive mouse who, as depicted in Ering's pencil drawings, is one of the most endearing of his ilk ever to appear in children's books. His mother, who is French, declares him to be "such the disappointment" at his birth and the rest of his family seems to agree that he is very odd: his ears are too big and his eyes open far too soon and they all expect him to die quickly. Of course, he doesn't. Then there is the human Princess Pea, with whom Despereaux falls deeply (one might say desperately) in love. She appreciates him despite her father's prejudice against rodents. Next is Roscuro, a rat with an uncharacteristic love of light and soup. Both these predilections get him into trouble. And finally, there is Miggery Sow, a peasant girl so dim that she believes she can become a princess. With a masterful hand, DiCamillo weaves four story lines together in a witty, suspenseful narrative that begs to be read aloud. In her authorial asides, she hearkens back to literary traditions as old as those used by Henry Fielding. In her observations of the political machinations and follies of rodent and human societies, she reminds adult readers of George Orwell. But the unpredictable twists of plot, the fanciful characterizations, and the sweetness of tone are DiCamillo's own. This expanded fairy tale is entertaining, heartening, and, above all, great fun.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Dear reader, light your lamp and listen to the tale of Despereaux, the last mouse born of Antoinette. Born with his eyes open and ears much too large, Despereaux seems destined for early death. A true Renaissance mouse, he can hear honey, read words, and appreciate fine music. But he cannot conform to the strictures of the mouse world. Rodents and humans don't mix, yet he falls in love with the Princess Pea, earning the wrath of all the mice in the castle. The melodramatic voice of the narrator glides through DiCamillo's entirely pleasing tale, at times addressing the reader directly, at others, moving the reader back and forward in time. Never does she abandon the reader in the dungeon with Despereaux, the dark-hearted rats, or the guard and fellow inmate, Gregory. And so unwinds a tale with twists and turns, full of forbidden soup and ladles, rats lusting for mouse blood, a servant who wishes to be a princess, a knight in shining-or, at least, furry-armor, and all the ingredients of an old-fashioned drama. (Fiction. 7-12)
Despereaux is a mouse who reads stories about knights, loves music, falls in love with a princess, and is sentenced to death for communicating with humans. Graeme Malcolm gives a formal, unembellished reading of the text. In some ways, this fits a story that feels like a fairy tale, and, in other ways, it does little to enliven a story that is somewhat slow paced. Malcolm's voices for the scheming rat Roscuro and the bumbling Miggery Sow are inventive, but his narration doesn't pull any suspense or tension out of the lengthy exposition and flashbacks. There are also many instances of deliberate authorial intrusion that don't work as well in audio as they do on the page. An uneven production. A.F. Winner of the 2004 Newbery Medal; 2004 Audie Award Finalist © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine