The Tale of Despereaux
by Kate DiCamillo
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars.
I really wanted to like this book. I read it a bit under duress, since it was just one of those books that all the kids were reading, so I “had to” read it too, just to keep up. I rolled my eyes when I read the unnecessarily long subtitle and thought “oh great, another mouse book” – akin to how I felt when a 2nd-grader asked me for books about hamster protagonists.
In the end, I did like this book. I still had some qualms, like the fact that much is made, in the beginning, of the agreement that mice and humans were not to converse and hadn’t done so for eons, and at the end Despereaux is launching into conversations with humans, who were responding without surprise. Or the fact that Miggery Sow (really? that name made me uncomfortable every time I read it, and instantly removed any pretense of sympathy for her in my mind) goes home with the ex-con father who sold her to the man who abused her. I think that would’ve given my 8-year-old self nightmares! But probably most kids aren’t thinking that hard about it, so it’ll do.