Monday, June 9, 2014

Book Review of "The Tale of Despereaux"

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo

-- stars (unrated; content issues)

Description: It doesn't matter if they live in castles; mice just are not meant to be heroes. Especially not undersized, absent-minded mice like tiny Despereaux. His family doesn't understand him. The King doesn't understand him. Only Princess Pea, the lovely girl who shines like purest light, understands Despereaux's mighty heart. But an evil plot of bitterness and revenge is creeping like darkness from the dungeon, threatening Pea's very life -- and the only one that understands the danger is Despereaux, the mouse that is too small stop it.

Concerns: Big warning. For a story aimed at younger readers, this tale gets very dark and nasty; the theme of overcoming evil is a worthy one, but the story's evil is emphasized over-much. The villainous rats are vile things that delight in tormenting prisoners and mice; people/mice can be (and are) heartless to their own children; one girl is constantly getting slapped (to the point where she goes nearly deaf); it can be depressing. 

Summary: The many morals of this story are fantastic. Forgiveness, consequences, and steadfast love; and yet, this story is not for everyone. The writing is beautiful and the courage of Despereaux is truly inspiring, and will stay with you long after the final pages have closed... but the raw evil that the little mouse confronts is grimly realistic. As a book for teens, it is fascinating; but for younger ones? Kids, get Mom or Dad to preview it first.

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