If you’re in the mood for a bit of light and easy reading with genuine characters, Kate DiCamillo’s, The Tale of Despereaux is a sweet choice.  The book begins with the humorous, yet very troubling birth of little Despereaux – a mouse born with his eyes open (apparently not a common mouse gene) and ears too large for words.  A misfit from the beginning, Despereaux is anything but a reluctant reader, and wishes to someday save a princess and become the hero of his own fairy tale.  Within castle walls and of very cruel French descent dwells Despereaux’s family, who punish him for talking to humans, loving music more than scurrying for food, and falling in love with a real princess.  To complete the mission, they send him to the dungeon.

Deep in the dungeon we meet Rat, Roscuro, who common to Despereaux, has a love for things unlike his fellow species.  By section three, more characters are introduced, helping to unravel the truth and “light” that the story promises at its beginning.  Readers are drawn into a fairy tale word where soup is forbidden, children (and mice and rats) long for real mothers, and direct questions from the author that prompt one to pay extra attention to something important!

This is the perfect “tale” for any middle school-aged child or for anyone who has ever felt that they do not fit within his/her surroundings.  This is a story of light and darkness, of good and evil, of mouse and rat – one endearing read with which all humans and mice alike, can empathize.

Gary gives it three paws.  But he likes mice – and rats.  So perhaps his rating is a bit biased.

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