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The Tale of Despereaux – being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup and a spool of thread by Kate DiCamillo
Published by Walker Books, 2004
ISBN 0763617229

Reviewed by Shannon Library’s Children’s Book Club, November 2004

The book is laid out in four ‘books’. In book one we are introduced to the hero of the book, Despereaux Tilling, who soon reveals himself as different to the average mouse, preferring reading, listening to music and falling in love with the Princess Pea to scurrying about and nibbling food. He falls foul of the mouse council who condemn him to a sure death in the rat infested dungeon.

Book two belongs to Roscuro, who longs for something better than the grim life of a rat. He escapes to the light filled upstairs of the castle, where he causes mayhem by falling into the soup of the queen, who dies of fright. The Princess Pea looks at the rat with disgust, causing his heart to break and sending him scurrying back to the dungeon vowing revenge.

Miggery Sow is the subject of book three. She has had a hard life, being sold at the age of six by her father to a man who works her very hard and delivers painful clouts to her ears. Eventually she goes to work in the palace, where Roscuro, by promising her she will become a princess, convinces her to help him in his plan to make the princess suffer.

The three stories in this dark fairy story come together in the final book in an exciting sort of happy ever after ending. The book club was reminded of another mouse hero, Stuart Little, when reading this book. They also loved the cute pictures in the book. They gave it a rating of 8 out of 10.