21. The Tale of Despereaux
The Tale of Despereaux, being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
Finished: Jan. 31, 2009
First Published: 2003
Genre: children, fantasy, fairy tale
Award: Newbery Medal (2004)
Reason for Reading: Newbery Project. And because the movie is out.
This story begins within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse.
Comments: Written in a tradition fairy tale manner this is the story of four characters, two good and two evil (or shall we say mislead). They include a princess, a mouse, a serving girl and a rat. All good ingredients for a fairy tale. We learn the background lives of all four characters then we are told how they met up with each other and created this story which ultimately is about the mouse, being a knight in shining armour, and how he rescued the princess and helped the evil doers as well.
I know there are a million reviews of this book and many raves. It also won the Newbery in 2004. It is one of the better Newberys that have won in the 21st century but I wasn't that taken with it. Perhaps I am too grown up and cynical for this type of story but I found it very sickly sweet. Even though I am a great fan of fairy tales I found here that the good were too good and the evil were not all that evil, simply mislead. It is a very fast read so certainly worth the effort. I think girls in particular will enjoy the story but it's a bit too much "honey" for my tastes.