DiCamillo, Kate. The Tale of Despereaux.
I didn't know what to expect from The Tale of Despereaux. I had read both positive and negative reviews. I had HEARD both positive and negative reviews from people I know and trust. Yet I knew I would have to read it myself to see where I was in the spectrum. I really enjoyed The Tale of Despereaux. If you like stories with talking animals--particularly talking mice--then this book will probably appeal. (I know there are some folks that don't like the 'animal fantasy' genre as a whole. People who like their animals to be realistic.) Despereaux is the smallest and youngest mouse in his family. He was 'odd' from his birth. Odd because he was said to be born with 'his eyes open.' Many in the mouse community dislike him. They seem him as odd, different, weird, un-mouselike. He's an outsider among his own. The Tale of Despereaux is about conformity and nonconformity. About being different, about being unique, about finding love and acceptance. About searching for that love and acceptance--because often it is NOT freely given. Yes, Despereaux is different. He is not interested in mousey things. He is drawn to music that only he--and his big ears--can hear. He is drawn to the beautiful world of humans. He is drawn to the Princess. Princess Pea. But this is not Despereaux's story alone. It involves a rat, a princess, a grief-stricken king, an abused and abandoned peasant girl, a prison guard, and a hardened prisoner. The book is enjoyable. And I think many will enjoy it. It did win the Newbery after all.
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