The Tale of Desperaux
written by Kate DiCamillo
reviewed by Aubrianna Willard-lee, age 12
The Tale of Desperaux is a funny, surprising story that captures the essence of courage through the story of a mouse named Desperaux. He lives within the walls of a castle. At first, Desperaux is not very brave. One day, the king plays his guitar and sings to his daughter, princess Pea. Desperaux listens to the music and traces the voice all the way to the king’s feet. Then, the princess spots him. When the princess touches him on his head, he falls in love with her.
When Desperaux’s brother sees the princess touching him on the head he tells the “mouse council,” because the humans are not supposed to know that mice live in the castle. The mouse council has a meeting, and they decide to send Desperaux to the dungeon as his punishment. They call Desperaux into the room and tie a red thread around his neck. The red thread is supposed to resemble blood. After they tie the red thread around his neck, they take him to the dungeon, a dark and stinky place filled with mean, mouse-eating rats.
Unfortunately for Desperaux, there is a mean rat named Chiaroscuro living in the castle’s dungeon. Chiaroscuro tricks Migery Sow, one of the servants in the castle. Chiaroscuro’s plan is to get Migery Sow to help him capture princess Pea and take her to the dungeon. Chiaroscuro wants to take princess Pea to the dungeon because one day, when he went up stairs to explore, princess Pea noticed him while he was dangling from a chandelier right over the queen’s soup. The princess yelled, “ A rat, a rat!”
When Chiaroscuro found out that the princess was talking about him, he grew very upset, because he didn’t consider himself a rat. Then, all of the sudden, he let go and fell right into the hot, steamy liquid. When the queen saw that a rat was in her soup, she screamed and died. The queen loved soup and so when she died, the king banned soup from the whole kingdom.
While in the dungeon, Desperaux meets a person named Gregory the jailer. He is the person who the king sent down to watch the other jailers who are also in the dungeon. When Gregory gets his food one afternoon, he balls up a napkin and places Desperaux inside it. When the servant comes to pick up the tray, Desperaux goes back upstairs with it.
Thanks to Desperaux’s new bravery, he is prepared to save princess Pea from the cruel things that are going to happen to her.
I liked this story because it was a mixture of romance and adventure. I would recommend this book to middle schoolers. Even though it has some difficult words, it has a good message about overcoming your fears.