The Tale of Despereaux

Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread

by Kate DiCamillo

Read November 2008

taleofdespereauxSo far, this is one of my favorite Newberry Award Winners.  This was one of the first Newberry’s my daughter and I picked up.  I read Natasha’s book review at and knew right away we had to read it.

Despereaux Tilling is not your ordinary mouse, and in the mouse world, this is not a good thing.  To start off, he was unusually small, with gigantic ears, and was born with his eyes open (absolutely unheard of in the mouse world!)

His brothers and sisters try to teach him to scurry and scamper and bedespereauxneedle_122403 more ‘mouse-like’ but he is more interested in listening to music and reading books.

Despereaux’s desire to hear the beauful sound of the music draws him out of his mouse world and into the world of the Princess pea and her father the king, who had been singing her a lullaby.  The Pea, as she is called, is drawn to Despereaux.  He then breaks the one rule that no mouse EVER breaks.  He spoke to a human.  Despereaux’s brother hears him and alerts his father, who then calls a meeting of the mouse council.
The mouse council decides that Despereaux’s crime is unforgivable and sends him to the dungeon.  First they tie a bit of red string around his neck.  Despereaux is essentially given a death sentence, he is being fed to the rats of the dungeon.  I don’t want to give too many spoiler’s away because I love the way the story all ties together. 
We add several more characters, the Queen, a very unfortunate little girl named Miggery Sow, and a rat named Roscuro.  Despereaux tries to become the knight in shining armor that he read about in his book and retreats to the dungeon to rescue his princess.

This book had my girls on the edge of their seats.  Every night I heard, “Just one more chapter, puh-lease mooooommy.”  When my husband took them to see WALL-E at the theater, they were more excited that they saw a trailer for The Tale of Despereaux than they were about WALL-E.  We had no idea it was going to be made into a movie, so a bit of excitement to go and see it.the_tale_of_despereaux_pics_4

The movie was good on it’s own but doesn’t compare to the book.  My daughter did something that I am imfamous for doing.  She could not sit and watch her beautiful book be misrepresented.  My husband refused to go and watch movie adaptations of books I’ve read.  I can’t help but be mad about some of them.  Harry Potter I can usually get through without too many comments, but Eragon was his final straw.  I think I actually yelled at the TV.    ~hiding face in shame~  Now I have my baby doing the same thing!

It wasn’t that the movie was bad, but there were some major differences.  My daughter’s biggest complaint was the talking vegetable man, who does not exist in the book.  The book was MUCH darker than the movie and I think that the changes that were made were made to make it less…well, dark.

I fully encourage anyone to read this book, especially if you have a love for Newberry’s.



~ by jennifermorrill on January 28, 2009.

2 Responses to “The Tale of Despereaux”

  1. Yes!! The talking vegetable man! Why, oh why, did they make that awful decision? Otherwise, the movie was great. Hated the vegetable man though.

  2. I could deal with the jailer being Miggery Sow’s dad, I could deal with Roscuro sailing in on a ship, I could deal with a lot of little changes…but Veggie Man was horrible.

    My youngest daughter just got a short reader based upon the movie version. We were reading it, and it had veggie man in it and my oldest daughter literally went, “Ughhh.” and got up and walked away. I nearly died of laughter.

    By the way, thanks for commenting here. It’s pretty lonely over here!

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