Monday, May 03, 2010


The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick Press, 2003, 270 pp

I found this to be a very odd story. A mouse who is "different" in that he is smaller than the rest and would rather listen to music and read than hunt for food, who falls in love with a human princess, develops ideas about honor but gets banished by the "Mouse Council" for endangering his community, is certainly a stand-in for humans and their troubles. So, allegory, right? In the spirit of Stuart Little. Truly Stuart, as a mouse, did stretch my credibility a bit, but the story was endearing.

I think it was mostly the writing that bothered me. I wasn't convinced about any of it, the characters, the plot, not even the ending. Plus that pseudo Victorian thing of addressing the reader all the time, as in "Reader, ...", became so annoying.

This book flies off the shelf at Once Upon A Time. It may be our most continuous bestseller for 8-12 year old readers after The Wimpy Kid series. I would have to ask some kids what they like about it. I have not yet seen the movie.

I am hoping I will get some comments here that will enlighten me.

(Yes, this book is always in stock on the Newbery Winners shelf at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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