The Tale of Despereaux

Despereaux Tilling is a very small mouse with big ears. He is fascinated with light, captivated by the sweet sound of music, and he breaks the very strict behavior rules of his world by falling in love with a human being, the Princess Pea. Not only did he fall in love with the Pea, but he allowed himself to be seen and even touched by her. The other castle mice are outraged by his behaviors, even (or especially) his own family, and the consequences of “being different” are very grave indeed. In the story that ensues, Despereaux becomes a most “unlikely hero.”

Kate DiCamillo received the Newbery Award for this beautifully written adventure story told with such heart. The Tale of Despereaux has been on my class library shelf for a long time, and many students have read my copy. Now I understand why. What a delightful read for young and old!

After finishing it, I started looking for information on Kate DiCamillo and discovered that the book is being made into an animated movie that is due to be released in December of 2008. It has an outstanding cast for the voices of the characters: Emma Watson plays the Princess Pea; Matthew Broderick is Despereaux; Dustin Hoffman is Roscuro; Sigourney Weaver is the narrator; and other characters are played by Christopher Lloyd, Robbie Coltrane, William H. Macy, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Ciaran Hinds, and Tracey Ullman! With a cast like that, and the wonderful story by DiCamillo, it’s going to be a fabulous movie!

So when I discovered the movie connection, I decided to count this fun little book as one of my reads for Callista’s Book-to-Movie reading challenge. I’ll be first in line next December to see the movie!

13 thoughts on “The Tale of Despereaux

  1. Tara

    This sounds lovely – I’d heard of it but never really read the premise. What do you think is the appropriate age for this ( as a read-aloud)?


  2. Gentle Reader

    My middle son (age 8) read this in school, and will be so, so excited to hear there’s a movie coming out. Thanks for breaking the news at our house!


  3. Nymeth

    I loved this book – such a charming story! The movie could be great too if done right, and it sounds like that will be the case.


  4. Robin

    Tara, it says 2nd through 8th grade on one web site I looked at. I think it’s really perfect for an upper elementary read aloud, although I’m reading it to my second graders and they are really enjoying it.

    Gentle Reader, I was so excited when I found out about the movie. I think the cast is terrific.

    Nymeth, I loved it, too. I have high hopes for the movie.

    Jenclair, it’s a fun read aloud.

    Alisonwonderland, (great name!), the book sat on my TBR shelf for way too long! I really enjoyed it. I hope the movie lives up to the book!


  5. Callista

    I’ve added this to the Book to Movie listing. I haven’t read it yet but will be as I’m doing the Newbery Project. It sounds really cool. Glad to see Emma Watson doing more things. I wonder what Daniel Radcliffe will do next. Of course it couldn’t be big since they are still working on Harry Potter movies.


  6. Bellezza

    I read it to my children with a French accent for the voices, and I am amazed that this complicated story never ceases to enrapture them. She is a wonderful writer, although I have to say Because of Winn-Dixie is even better in my opinion.


  7. Nan -

    I have this on my shelf, and bought it after reading her wonderful book, Because of Winn-Dixie. Have you read it? I’ll have to read this one soon.


  8. Robin

    Thanks, Callista! I was really excited when I discovered that Emma Watson is one of the voice actors. She’s terrific! I can’t wait to see the movie of this. I hope they do a really nice job on it.

    Bellezza, I wish I could do accents better. My kids are enjoying listening to it, but I don’t have that talent, which would add so much fun to the listening! I haven’t read Winn-Dixie, but I’m definitely going to now!

    Bookgal, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when you read it.

    Nan, I’m definitely going to read Winn-Dixie now. I didn’t see that movie, either, so after I read the book, I’ll watch the DVD.

    Heather, it was a lot of fun to read.


  9. Mary

    I use this book for a literature study with my 4th graders and they absolutely adore it! They beg me for extra time to read and even ask if they can read more at home. I’ve used it as a read aloud, for partner, individual reading and book clubs. The story is enchanting and I love how it allows children to see how involved they can be with reading.



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