100 Chapter Books Project: The Tale of Despereaux


The last modern book that I’m reading from the Top 100 Chapter Books list is The Tale of Despereaux (2003) by Kate DiCamillo. It was originally released with a very long subtitle–Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread–that seems to have been lost with time. The subtitle isn’t even mentioned in Wikipedia or on DiCamillo’s own webpage.

What it’s about: If you happen to get a copy with the subtitle intact, you will automatically know at least some of what this book is about. Despereaux Tilling is a very tiny mouse, born to a French mama in a castle, home to a Princess who lost her mother when a rat fell into her soup and gave her a heart attack. The King subsequently hates rats, bans soup, and makes the castle a rather gloomy place. Also in the castle are rats, a dungeon, and servants, some of whom really miss soup.

Age level: Grades 2-4

Best part: I love how Despereaux can read and is therefore the kindest, gentlest, and most loving of the mice.

Worst part: I just didn’t really like the way things went for Miggery Sow, the servant girl who used to be a slave, sold by her own father for a tablecloth and some other odds and ends. She is made ugly and deaf by repeated hits upside the head but I don’t see why this had to make her dumb and mean. She is somewhat redeemed by the end but even that was a mixed blessing as she ends up back with the father who sold her.

Verdict: Buy/Borrow

I thought the book was okay but there was a certain something that was missing, perhaps because the story moves focus between the various characters and so you never get to know any of them very well. Still, there are a lot of good morals to pull out of the story and I think a teacher could really bring the story to life in a classroom.

I am so excited to be reading Pippi Longstocking again! The last time I read it was when Z was a preschooler. Since I’ll be pulling out my big collection volume, I might read more than just the first story.

Schedule – February through March
February 15 – #91 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (1950)
February 28 – #8 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)
March 15 – #1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952)
March 31 – Project Wrap-Up!

One thought on “100 Chapter Books Project: The Tale of Despereaux

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *