“But, reader, he did live…”

My first book review! I’ve decided to go with something I grew up with. I picked a book that not only did I love as a kid, but now that I’m older, I begin to see more writing styles and effects I didn’t see before. Selection? Ladies and gents, from the author of Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tiger Rising comes…

The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux! “Being the story,” says Miss DiCamillo, “…of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread.”

Now, more than likely, you have all heard of the book. And, chances are, you’ve read it as well. So I won’t go into detail about the storyline, as most people already know what it is. It takes place in a castle and begins with the birth of a mouse. Basically, little Despeaux is a mouse that loves humans and falls in love with the princess of the castle. No mouse is ever supposed to do that! They’re mice, for pete sake. But oh, Despereaux’s dream is to protect the princess like a knight in shining armor! He doesn’t care if he’s different–he is on a quest!

Oh, and it’s about a rat named Roscuro, who loves light (unlike any other rat).  He is tired of living in the dungeon of the castle and always in the dark. His dream is to see and live …upstairs!–in the light! He doesn’t care if he’s different–he wants to go upstairs and take revenge on the humans that threw them down in the depths of the dungeon. That’s what this story is about.

Wait, no. Nevermind. It’s about the kitchen maid of the castle. Migory Sow. She’s fat, ugly, and no one is ever nice to her. She can’t talk normally and she can hear about as good as a cottonball can. But she wants to be a princess! That’s her dream! So what if she’s different? She wants to wear a crown.

Wait, so this book has three storylines? Well…yes and no. That’s why I chose this book rather than…say…Green Eggs and Ham.

When I was little, sure I liked the characters, and the funny lines, and the antagonists and swordfights. (Spoiler Alert: They all die. KIDDING.)

But there was something about it that I loved that I couldn’t put my finger on. The more I think about it, the more my theory grows: I like it because everything fits together swimmingly.

The story of Despereaux includes his love for the princess and his ability to read, and he is led into the dungeon by his own brother because he is too different from the rest of them. He is led to the dungeon, then Miss DiCamillo rewinds a little to start the story of Roscuro, the rat Despereaux will meet in the dungeon. Then as they escape together, DiCamillo halts the story once more to recount the background of Migory Sow, the kitchen maid. In the ending parts of the book, we see it is Roscuro and Migory vs. Desperaux and the princess.

And we all know why. Why? Because now, we know everyone’s stories.

That’s what I love about the book: the three parts are combined in the fourth to where everything makes sense. “Oh THAT’S why he did that!”, “Ohhhhhh I didn’t notice that!”, “That makes sense because he did that earlier!”

Personally, I love when little stories fit together to make something bigger. It makes it more fun to read, and it means more to the reader. The Tale of Despereaux is a perfect example of this. It’s difficult to write, given that you’re afraid your reader won’t understand anything while reading. But, if done well, it can lead to a meaningful work.

Plus, Despereaux is just plain awesome. That’s another reason you should like the book.

I’ve done a little of this in my fantasy series. (They aren’t posted on the blog, but I just thought I’d throw that out there). I have to admit, once its written and while you edit it, it’s pretty cool to see how it all fits. It makes you feel accomplished.

So try it: little stories that come together in the end to make a big story. It’s really, really neat. Tell me your thoughts!

“But, reader, he did live. Despereaux Tilling lived.”

~J.L. Cordova


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