Last time I took my kids to the movies, I saw a trailer for a new family movie coming out, The Tale of Despereaux. The trailer said it was based on the book. It looked so cute, I bought the book the next time I was at Barnes & Noble. It turns out this book, written by Kate Dicamillo, is a John Newberry Medal winner which is given for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”
Well, needing a change, I sat down with this book last week. I was not disappointed. I thought it was a beautiful story of love, courage, and good vs. evil. This book is the story of a very tiny mouse named Despereaux who is not like any other mouse. He falls in love with a princess and must brave the dark and rats to save his love.
This book touches on many themes with which children struggle. Being different from everyone else is a central theme, one Despereaux deals with admirably. Being little and scared, but still persevering is also touched on in this story. I think this book can help children with these struggles while it entertains them.
The chapters are short and include some pencil illustrations of the story. Since I had seen the trailer, it was hard to appreciate the drawings as much because I was picturing the movie in my head. Nevertheless, the drawings were sweet.
Some descriptions were a little vivid and may scare younger children. Since the writing was good, I could picture some of these scary scenes. Otherwise, the book is told by a narrator speaking directly to the reader, offering explanations of “flashbacks” during the story. I think this was an effective manner in which to introduce young readers to this concept.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and think it would be good for older elementary kids (as well as adult book lovers). I may try to read some of it to my kindergartner and see if she gets hooked.