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KATE DICAMILLO lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is the author of The Tale of Despereaux, which won the Newbery Medal, and The Tiger Rising, which was named a National Book Award Finalist.
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.
The rich timbre of Malcolm's voice proves an appealing invitation for listeners to follow along with this romantic and funny tale of an unlikely hero. Despereaux Tilling, a tiny mouse with very large ears, has always been a misfit among mice. But it is his quirks-which include the ability to read books and tell stories, as well as his undying love for a human princess-that lead Despereaux on a quest that culminates in a most fitting "happily ever after" ending. Malcolm's humorous interpretation of Antoinette Tilling's (Despereaux's French mother) histrionics is fine entertainment. And his Roscuro the rat character delivers slick lines with a Latin flair. With asides directed at listeners and elements of royal intrigue, innocent romance and revenge, this listening experience sometimes recalls the film The Princess Bride. But movie fans or no, listeners will find lots to enjoy here. Ages 7-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.