The Tale of Despereaux

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I would like to be able to tell you all that I’ve had a very productive week in which I made great progress on my summer reading list, and just generally accomplished many things.  If you would like to believe that story, I’d advise you to stop reading this blog post right now, and go on with your happy delusion.  Unfortunately, I’ve been celebrating summer by flopping around in bed for the last week, and wearing the same sweatshirt for more days than I would like to admit.  I’m not really sure what happened, but I do know that I didn’t finish any books this week.  Consequently, I’m reaching back into my repertoire of books I’ve already read to find something to talk about this week.  Thinking back on what books stood out to me over the years made me think about the first favorite book I ever had.  My mom read The Tale of Despereaux to me when I was in second grade, and although I couldn’t understand all of the language, I remember thinking that it was beautiful.  I’ve been hesitant to review any children’s books on this blog, because they are seldom very intellectually stimulating, and can be immature and well, childish (which makes sense for the target audience).  This book, however, transcends the stereotypical children’s book mold, allowing the story to be accessible to children and the quality of the writing to be something that adults need not condescend to read.  The style is unabashedly whimsical, yet is carried out in a distinctly un-childish manner that makes the reader forget they are reading something that came out of the children’s section.  Although many of the ideas, such as that of right and wrong, are easy for kids to understand, the book is peppered with large words, entwining story lines and complex emotions that are delicately layered to create a story that covertly encourages goodness and beauty of spirit more than any book of it’s genre that I’ve read.  The world would be a better place if everyone read and understood this book.  The writing is enchantingly beautiful, and the narrative style makes the reader feel as if they are being whispered a very important secret by candlelight in the dead of night; simultaneously comfortable and thrilling.  The story is exciting and surprisingly thoughtful, managing to maintain it’s dignity and even to embrace the fairy tale-like whimsy usually overdone in books of it’s genre. This story will draw people of all ages in, as it calls to the bit of magic in the souls of all of us.

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3 thoughts on “The Tale of Despereaux

  1. Just thought you would like to know that I met Kate DiCamillo at a Kiddie Lit conference. She is absolutely wonderful. I love Children’s books, and she is at the top of the list as an author of great books to read with and to my kids! Love, Joyce Porter

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