The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, And a Spool of Thread [Rough Cut] (英語) ペーパーバック – 2006/4/11
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"Forgiveness, light, love, and soup. These essential ingredients combine into a tale that is as soul-stirring as it is delicious." — BOOKLIST (starred review)
Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.
From the master storyteller who brought us BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE comes another classic, a fairy tale full of quirky, unforgettable characters, with twenty-four stunning black-and-white illustrations by Timothy Basil Ering. This paperback edition pays tribute to the book's classicdesign, featuring a rough front and elegant gold stamping.
CHAPTER ONE: THE LAST ONE
This story begins within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse. A small mouse. The last mouse born to his parents and the only one of his litter to be born alive.
"Where are my babies?" said the exhausted mother when the ordeal was through. "Show to me my babies."
The father mouse held the one small mouse up high.
"There is only this one," he said. "The others are dead."
"Mon Dieu, just the one mouse baby?"
"Just the one. Will you name him?"
"All of that work for nothing," said the mother. She sighed. "It is so sad. It is such the disappointment." She was a French mouse who had arrived at the castle long ago in the luggage of a visiting French diplomat. "Disappointment" was one of her favorite words. She used it often.
"Will you name him?" repeated the father.
"Will I name him? Will I name him? Of course, I will name him, but he will only die like the others. Oh, so sad. Oh, such the tragedy."
The mouse mother held a handkerchief to her nose and then waved it in front of her face. She sniffed. "I will name him. Yes. I will name this mouse Despereaux, for all the sadness, for the many despairs in this place. Now, where is my mirror?"
Her husband handed her a small shard of mirror. The mouse mother, whose name was Antoinette, looked at her reflection and gasped aloud. "Toulèse," she said to one of her sons, "get for me my makeup bag. My eyes are a fright."
While Antoinette touched up her eye makeup, the mouse father put Despereaux down on a bed made of blanket scraps. The April sun, weak but determined, shone through a castle window and from there squeezed itself through a small hole in the wall and placed one golden finger on the little mouse.
The other, older mice children gathered around to stare at Despereaux.
"His ears are too big," said his sister Merlot. "Those are the biggest ears I've ever seen."
"Look," said a brother named Furlough, "his eyes are open. Pa, his eyes are open. They shouldn't be open."
It is true. Despereaux's eyes should not have been open. But they were. He was staring at the sun reflecting off his mother's mirror. The light was shining onto the ceiling in an oval of brilliance, and he was smiling up at the sight.
"There's something wrong with him," said the father. "Leave him alone."
Despereaux's brothers and sisters stepped back, away from the new mouse.
"This is the last," proclaimed Antoinette from her bed. "I will have no more mice babies. They are such the disappointment. They are hard on my beauty. They ruin, for me, my looks. This is the last one. No more."
"The last one," said the father. "And he'll be dead soon. He can't live. Not with his eyes open like that."
But, reader, he did live.
This is his story.
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering. Text copyright (c) 2006 by Kate DiCamillo. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
As some reviewers have pointed out, there are some dark and sad elements to the story. There is loss and betrayal and cruelty. If you are uncomfortable exposing your kids to that, you might want to read this yourself before reading it to them, and think about how you will talk about those things. But there is also courage and forgiveness and kindness, and a lot of heart. You should be prepared to take your kids on a deeper emotional and moral journey than you'll find in most children's books, and if you're up for that, this book is a great guide and a brilliant tale.
Mar 06, 2016
Maese Delta rated it really liked it
It was quite the experience reading this book. First I had seen the movie, which became quickly one of my favourites.
Now, having the chance of reading the book, I enjoyed the pacing, and getting familiarized with the setting, and taking for granted the obvious changes made for the movie (the absence of the magic creature that helped the Cook and, instead of the Rat Leader, Boticelli Remorso).
Considering the style it's narrated, sometimes it irked me that the author called for the reader's attention so many times, thougth I just kept reading on. I think it serves for a good, thrilling reading aloud to children, so that's why it should work better as such.
As for the ending, it seemed it was a bit... lacking, I kept waiting for something else to happened. Of course, the chapters are way too short, though that just made me appreciate it more when it comes to less is more in writing, but there could be just another page, and something else, for me to have enjoyed the last chapter.
All in all, it was easy for me to care for Despereaux, and the increasing burden of hopelessness and fear as the adventure progresses (the scene with the Mouse Council being one of my favourites), and the way he's entranced by the Princess and the power of reading, of imagining, of upholding what those chansons du geste spoke of.
Our favorite parts were when Despereaux the brave mouse falls in love with the Princess, and he is willing to do anything to save her from the evil rats. There were evil rats, a death in a family and plenty of perfidy in this story. But as the quest goes on, Despereaux becomes a brave mouse. The one thing we would caution to other readers, is that some parts are emotional and could bring you to tears. And sometimes it can be confusing the way the story goes backwards and forwards from the present tense. Would we recommend this book? Yes, if you think you’d like a story about a brave, little mouse who has such a big quest ahead of him. We rate this book at 5 stars.
Definitely, worth reading!