Jumat, 09 Januari 2009

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread"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.

Customer Review: A more "grown up" fairy tale

Inspired by a friend's son who wanted DiCamillo to write a story about "an ulikely hero...with exceptionally large ears," Despereaux is both dark and joyful. It is a story of fear, hate,sadness, greed and the awful things of life as well as being the story of love, kindness, pity and courage.

There are many vocal detractors of this book on this site. I am not one of them. I am not entirely happy with the book (For example, no one mourns the jailer and the rat is essentially pardoned for his death for it is not brought up at the end of the book.) but I don't hate it - its many strengths greatly outweigh its weaknesses.

For those that don't like its themes of abuse, servitude and death I would refer you to this lengthy, but appropriate comment from C.S. Lewis:

"Those who say that children must not be frightened may mean two things. They may mean (1) that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless: in fact, phobias. His mind must, if possible, be kept clear of things he can't bear to think of. Or they may mean (2) that we must try to keep out of his mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil. If they mean the first I agree with them: but not if they mean the second. The second would indeed be to give children a false impression and feed them on escapism in the bad sense. There is something ludicrous in the idea of so educating a generation which is born to the...atomic bomb. Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker."

I'd rather my daughter know that danger exists and it is up to us - the little mice of the world to go out and rescue the princess. As the book notes, there is no knight coming to the rescue. It's also useful to know that there are people easily misled and used (Mig) and those who commit evil because they feel they are justified in doing so (the rat).

Beautifull packaged, this book

Customer Review: A Little Gem to Read Aloud...

I bought this little book on a whim to fill out an order so it would qualify for free shipping. What a treat! It took me only a few hours to read the book which is simply, but extremely well written.

The book involves four primary characters whose individual adventures result in their coming together to finish the tale. Each has his or her own dilemma or challenge to face, and each one's story has a nice component of morality interwoven into it.

This is an ideal book to read to a child you love. Enthusiastic readers will be able to dramatize the characters voices for added fun. Further, the reader can ask any number of questions, e.g. "What do you think will happen?"; "What would you do?"; "How would you feel?", so that the listener is involved in the process.

The chapters are short, the characters are colorful enough to be memorable, and the language is understandable without being dumbed down. Despereaux is a good story which can be enjoyed by anyone.

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