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Grade 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, Inc.
Kate DiCamillo lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is the author of BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, a Newbery Honor book, and THE TIGER RISING, which was a National Book Award Finalist. Kate DiCamillo says, "A few years ago, my best friend's son asked me if I would write a story for him. 'Well, ' I said, 'I don't normally write stories on command.' 'But this is a story that I know you would want to tell, ' he said. 'It's about an unlikely hero. He has exceptionally large ears.' 'What happens to this hero?' I asked. 'I don't know, ' he said. 'That's why I want you to write it down, so we can find out.' Well, Luke Bailey, three years later, here is the story of what happened to your exceptionally large-eared, unlikely hero." Timothy Basil Ering is the author and illustrator of THE STORY OF FROG BELLY RAT BONE, and he also created the cover image and interior black-and-white drawings for 33 SNOWFISH by Adam Rapp. Of his inspiration for the illustrations in The TALE OF DESPEREAUX, he says, "My mother may have been a mouse in her past life, as I watched her save and help so many mice in our house while I was growing up. The illustrations I've done of Despereaux Tilling are, in a way, my tribute to her." Timothy Basil Ering's artwork has appeared in books, magazines, theater sets, private murals, and fine art galleries.
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.
Gr 4-8-With allegorical elements such as quests for love and light, and dangerous encounters that lead to forgiveness and redemption, Kate DiCamillo's novel (Candlewick, 2003) is a multi-layered fantasy. The hero is Despereaux Tilling, a young mouse who is improbably, but deeply, in love with a very human Princess Pea. On the dark side, there's a misguided rat named Roscuro and a serving girl, Miggery Sow, who wishes to be a princess. The traumatic events that shape the lives of these four characters, and bring them all to the brink of disaster, are resolved with some gentle lessons on the power of kindness. DiCamillo creates a special intimacy with listeners by using frequent asides that draw them into the story. Narrator Graeme Malcolm heightens the text's storytelling qualities with a mix of deft accents and appropriate vocal styles. This novel's castle and its denizens are a long way from the down home folks in Because of Winn-Dixie, the author's Newbery Honor book. What remains the same is how well both stories convey the importance of caring relationships. Middle school listeners may find some of the scenarios far fetched, but they'll be inspired by the simple, believable way that good triumphs over evil. This is a solid choice for both public and school libraries.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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." --New York Times Book Review, The 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) 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. --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, The 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. --Horn Book, The Soul stirring and charming. --Booklist 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 Heart-stopping and heartwarming. . . . The perfect read-aloud. --San Francisco Chronicle Chill winds call for hot cocoa and a good book. THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX serves up 52 chapters bursting with adventure. --Washington Parent I give this book the highest rating: five out of five stars. --Newsday 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 Despereaux . . . stands shoulder to shoulder with such legendary literary mice as E.B. White's Stuart Little and Margery Sharp's Bernard and Miss Bianca. "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. --Orlando Sentinel 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. --Chicago Tribune 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. --Star Tribune THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX "has DiCamillo's modern sensibilities, her wry humor, and crystalline prose." --Miami Herald 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. --Houston Chronicle 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. --Woman's Day A heartwarming and rewarding read, THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX cheers uniqueness, boos conformity, urges readers to overlook seeming differences, and inspires hope. --Teacher Magazine 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. --Book Page . . . 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 . . . --Five Owls, The