This is an ebook I borrowed from the library over spring break. I only grabbed it because I figured the eight I packed wouldn’t be enough and I knew it had won the Newbery (2004). It happened to pop up when I was randomly browsing the library website. I wasn’t searching for it. It didn’t really even look appealing to me, so I read my other eight books first. When I did finally reach Despereaux, I was only three pages in before I set it aside. NOT because I hated it, but because it was one of those shining moments when you discover greatness. You know, a light-goes-on-and-music-starts-playing-in-the-background kind of greatness. Three pages and I knew—this was brilliant. I would save it for a homeschool read aloud.
I love surprises like that.
So, when we got home, I pulled out my Kindle. My older son wasn’t thrilled. He’d seen the movie and gave a half-hearted shrug when I asked how it was. We started the book to yawns and rolled eyes…
Despereaux was different from all other mice, and that’s what gets him banished to the deep dark of the palace dungeon. Despereaux was different from all other mice, and that’s what saves him from the deep dark of the palace dungeon…and saves the rest of the kingdom. That is the heart of the story. So simple, it seems, yet so complex. Those differences inspire an absolutely compelling story of bravery, love, chivalry, honor, forgiveness, and second chances. I won’t say any more. You have to read it yourself. It’s absolutely superb.
So what did my boys think?
“Keep reading, Mom!”
That was the standard mantra every single day for two weeks, coming in stereo from both sides of the couch, and not just because math came next. We LOVED this book. Kate DiCamillo has an unmatched skill for spinning out a tale thread by thread in the most beautiful, colorful way—a way that speaks directly to the reader and sucks them into the story. By page three.
Here’s the link on Amazon so you can read the first few pages yourself.
The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo