Currently Reading: A Tale of Despereaux

Despereaux sat and stared at him in dismay. What should he do now? He put a nervous paw up to his neck and pulled at the red thread, and suddenly his dream came flooding back to him... the dark and the light and the knight swinging his sword and the terrible moment when he had realized the suit of armor was empty.

And then, reader, as he stood before the king, a wonderful, amazing thought occurred ot the mouse. What if the suit of armor had been empty for a reason? What if it had been empty because it was waiting?

For him.

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Synopsis: As per the spine: "The story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread." That's as good a summing-up as any.

Notes: This book is relatively recent (2003); I'd otherwise be shocked that I'd never read it. It's an early chapter book, sweet and well-written and lovely.

My favorite thing about the tale: The range of passions and virtues covered, and the surprising depths to which they reach. Empathy, bravery, impossible hope, heartbreak, poor heart-repair jobs, forgiveness, and love are explored amid settings of tangible light and darkness. It's a lot to pack into a short little book like that. DiCamillo manages, proving, as many great writers do, that verbosity does not epitomize quality.

Memorable characters take the key roles. Despereaux, Roscuro, Pea, and Miggery Sow have really stuck with me; two weeks after reading the book, I still find myself sympathizing with their various troubles at random moments.

This book has already achieved some status as a children's classic, so all I can really do is say that I think it deserves it. I've never seen the movie that was made from it (being far less prone to watch kids' movies than I am to frequent the children's section of libraries and bookstores); if you have, what did you think?

Recommendation: Read it slowly enough to enjoy every line.


  1. The book is charming. The movie... I remember it being kind of strange and disjointed, especially the script, which apparently couldn't decide whether to stick with the book or be a bad attempt at a Disney adaptation. Four words: Walking Talking Vegetable Man. Excellent art direction, though.

  2. Ah, interesting. Walking Talking Vegetable Man? I can't even guess who that would be. Maybe I'll see the film sometime with relatively low expectations.


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