The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo: Book Review

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Cover of The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

5 Stars

Despereaux was born different. He’s super-small and his eyes opened right away. And as he grows older, he’s decidedly un-mousy in his behavior. In fact, he falls in love with Princess Pea. What will he do for her?

I was drawn into this dreamy fairy tale from the first page. I can’t say that I fell in love with any of the characters; that doesn’t really seem to happen in true fairy tales. But I did fall in love with the book and all the gently-taught lessons it contained.

There are lessons about individuality vs conformity, courage, honorable defiance, love, forgiveness, loyalty, envy, and judgment. And they’re all presented so subtly that kids probably won’t realize they’re learning anything.

There were several quotes I loved that will show you the heart at the center of this story.

“Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.”

“The sound of the king’s music made Despereaux’s soul grow large and light inside of him.”

“Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light.”

“Reader, do you think it is a terrible thing to hope when there is really no reason to hope at all? Or is it (as the soldier said about happiness) something that you might just as well do, since, in the end, it really makes no difference to anyone but you?”

I loved this little fairy tale with a big heart and recommend it. It would be perfect for parents to read aloud with their children.

Reviewed May 25, 2009

Read an excerpt.

Find author Kate DiCamillo on her website.

Buy The Tale of Despereaux at

Friday Flashback Reviews, a feature at The Introverted Reader

Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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