|The Tale of Despereaux,|
Despereaux is a very small mouse with very big ears. He is a major disappointment to his family, because he doesn’t enjoy the normal mouse activities of scurrying and scavenging and cowering in fear.
Instead, he thinks that music sounds like honey and that light coming through stained-glass windows looks like heaven. His sister Merlot tries to teach him how to eat books — the tasty glue of the binding and the crispy edges of the pages. But Despereaux is more interested in reading the words on the pages. A story about a heroic knight. Despereaux wants to be a hero, but how can a small, sickly mouse aspire to greatness? Ridiculous!
Yet Despereaux aspires to many wonderful, beautiful, ridiculous things. Like love. And hope. And forgiveness. For even a small creature may have a great heart.
In this charming book — The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo — many stories are intertwined. Despereaux’s story intersects the story of Gregory, a jailer who is himself imprisoned in the castle dungeons. And of Miggory Sow, a servant girl traded by her father for a tablecloth. And of Chiaruscuro, a rat who loves light but has been banished to the darkness. And of Princess Pea, a girl who is doted on by her father but who grieves for her dead mother. When the Princess is kidnapped, all of these stories converge.
Kate DiCamillo belongs to an exclusive “club” of writers who have won the Newberry medal twice. Once for Despereaux (2003) and again for Flora & Ulysses (2013). Only five other people have won two Newbery's. Kate's book Because of Winn-Dixie was Newbery Honor Book and also won the Josette Frank Award. For The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, she won the 2006 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for children’s fiction.
And she’s won a host of other awards which would take too many electrons to list. On her website, Kate says she feels lucky because she gets to tell stories for a living. "Stories are light," says Gregory the jailor to Despereaux. "Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light."
Some books shine with an inner light, because of the beauty of the language or the compelling characters or the carefully-crafted story. The Tale of Despereaux has all three.
Happy birthday to Kate DiCamillo on March 25th. Thanks for bringing so much lovely light into the world. Keep telling your stories. Keep making the light.Want to learn more about Kate diCamillo and her books? Click here.
Mouse - Drawing by Rama
Kate diCamillo photo - Candlewick Press
Kate diCamillo reading at Kalamazoo Public Library - Public Domain
Sun - Public Domain