The Tale of Despereaux is a book about the power of love and bravery. Despereaux is a little mouse that was born different from other mice. He loved reading books, while other mice nibbled on them. As he was growing up, he soon fell in love with a princess who had lost her mom and was very clever and bright. But loving a human was against the rules of the mice, so he was sent to the dungeon. Meanwhile, a rat named Chiaroscuro hatched an evil plan against the princess. Chiaroscuro forced Mig to be part of it. Mig was a girl whose mother was dead, and her father sold her to a fake uncle who made her almost deaf. Of course Mig hesitated. But because she wanted to be a princess, she was in it. Little Despereaux fought like a knight for the princess, and at the end, they found a happy ending, and the castle was once more full of light and soup, music and beauty.
I believe that Despereaux was mistreated by other mice. When Despereaux was born, he was very small and weak. No one understood him. What the other mice saw in their eyes was a dumb, useless creature, who fell in love with a human princess. Maybe Despereaux did break the law. But he was trying to listen to the music of the King while falling in love with the princess. The reason why this book is very satisfying is that little Despereaux became a hero and a knight, although he began as a failure and a mouse sentenced to death. When he tried to tell the king where the princess was, the king did not believe him. So poor little Despereaux did this by himself. He fought with the rats. And he saved the princess. Maybe the fight he had with the rats was not the same as all the battles by knights in fairy tales. But you see, the princess admitted in the end, “Despereaux, you are my knight,” and the little mouse abandoned by everyone he knew became the knight of the gorgeous princess.
When I first saw little Despereaux being abandoned for his differences, I felt very sorrowful. I don’t think anyone should be abandoned or treated differently for being different. Little Despereaux was sentenced to the dungeon at a very young age. This was very cruel, and it made me angry. He was hated and about to die, just because he was different. To be honest, I could see myself a little bit when I was watching little Despereaux. It wasn’t like my family abandoned me. No, not at all. But when I moved to the USA, I was treated differently from my friends in my old school. Back in Korea, I was the most popular girl in the whole grade. But because I was in a whole different country, everyone abandoned me and played with me like I was a toy. Despereaux had reasons for what he was doing. And obviously, I had reasons for being different, too. Both Despereaux and I found our own way to be our own selves. After all, Despereaux is a mouse like all the others in his community, and I am a human like the others in mine. So we shouldn’t have been treated differently.
Being different doesn’t mean you are being wrong. The Tale of Despereaux showed that to the readers. I thought it was very touching because once I was in Despereaux’s place. Being a kid who was abandoned by her friends and ended up being a hero, a knight, to them. I think Despereaux was brave for loving who he loved and forever being the knight of who he loved. I hope you can feel the emotion and truth of this story.
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick Press, 2009. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!