A Perfect Bedtime Story Adventure


Despereaux is a peculiar mouse. He doesn't like doing things the other mice do. One day, while following the sound of music, he meets the beautiful Princess Pa and immediately falls in love with her. But! Because he has broken the rules mice have against interacting with humans, Despereaux is exiled to the palace dungeon. In the dungeon, he meets Roscuro, who also lives in the dark dungeon. Roscuro, whose deepest desire is to see light, has also interacted with humans. In fact, he is plotting with a serving girl named Miggery Sow to kidnap Princess Pea. Despereaux must act quickly if he is to save the princess!

BTSYA / Teen Reader (16):
To me, the best part of this book is how the characters rebel against expectations set in place for them. Despereaux is uninterested in searching for crumbs or chewing on book glue and manages to save a princess. Roscuro’s obsession with the light moves him to kidnap Princess Pea, but is also the reason for his remorse.

I also enjoyed the theme of forgiveness, as Despereaux forgives his father for his part in sentencing him to the dungeons, and Princess Pea forgives Roscuro for his part in her mother’s death. The queen's death plays a large part in the story, and it is important to see the impacts that grief has on people. The author makes it clear that both of them forgave these people largely to heal their own hearts.

This would make a great gift for someone 8 years or older, especially if they love animals and adventures.

BTSYA Reader (20):
This novel has a unique structure: it is split into four sections, called “books.” The first three books each focus on one specific character’s story, and all three stories come together and are intertwined in the fourth and final book. I really like this structure because it establishes a sense of mystery and ambiguity in the beginning of the novel. The author adds clues along the way which help the reader connect the dots that eventually bring the three characters together. In addition, I appreciate the sense of creativity and imagination in the world that DiCamillo creates, a world where animals can read, talk, and interact with humans.

Overall, The Tale of Despereaux is perfect as a gift for children in grades 3 – 5 (ages 9 – 11). They will appreciate the beautiful illustrations, as they depict important moments in the plot and help bring the characters to life in the reader’s mind. This novel can also be a great bedtime story that parents can read to children. There are important themes about courage, compassion, and loyalty that enhance the plot. Its satisfying ending dispels the animosity between humans and animals that was present in the beginning, and it depicts an environment in which everyone can live in harmony.


Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers who love to visualize their stories as movies will thoroughly enjoy all that The Tale of Despereaux has to offer. Wonderful imagery and fun adventures await ... and make it really hard (!!!!) to put down this book.

Content Awareness Factors:

The story is uplifting and ends on a happy note, but there are mentions of death, tails being cut off, and a child being sold.

Type of Book:
This is an adventure story with the feel of a fairy tale.
Educational Themes:

This is a story to read for fun. Ultimatey, in "book 4" readers are presented with events where characters could choose holding a grudge or forgiveness. What would your reader have done?

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
9 and Up
Age of child:
een STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer ages: 16, 20
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. This is a beautiful bedtime story that can - and will! - be read again.

Title The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread
Author Kate DiCamillo
Publisher Candlewick Press, Walker Books Group © 2015 (Reprint Edition)
ISBN 9780763680893
Material Paperback
Cost $7.19
Genres Animal Character, Adventure, Fables and Folklore, Fantasy, Fairy Tale
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