Friday, February 19, 2010

The Tale of Despereaux

This book by Kate DiCamillo is ostensibly an adventure story about a mouse, but Despereaux is only in about a third of the book. The story is divided into quarters, with the first three quarters each told by a different character. Despereaux, one of these characters, is a misfit mouse who falls in love with a human princess, which seems unlikely. But due to his contact with humans, he is banished by the mouse community to the rat-infested dungeon, and conflict ensues.

The Tale of D. won the Newberry Award in 2003, and I think it is deserved. The book is pretty delightful throughout, and each of the leading characters' stories are interesting. I highly recommend it.

In 2008, the story was sort of made into a movie. I say "sort of" because (although I haven't actually seen the movie), the trailer below makes the film look appear to have only a couple of similarities with the book:

1) It has mice.
2) One of them is named Despereaux.

After reading this book, it occurs to me that there are a ton of books that revolve around mice.

1) The T of Despereaux (obviously)
2) Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (and the sequels, all excellent)
3) Poppy (decent)
4) Stuart Little
5) Ralph S. Mouse
6) The Rescuers
7) The Wind in the Willows (one of my personal favorite books (actually, this might just be rats, moles, and the like, but that's close enough))
8) The Redwall series (pretty good, for the most part)
9) Of Mice and Men (?)
10) Basil of Baker Street (also a movie which I remember enjoying)

And if we include TV, we can add Biker Mice from Mars, Chip and Dale, Mickey Mouse, Mighty Mouse, Speedy Gonzalez, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (almost!), and the list goes on.

Are these rodents disproportionately featured, or am I just thinking selectively? If this really is a large quantity of mouse fiction, what is the reason for all of it?


Sarah said...

You forgot Need A House? Call Miss Mouse!

Sarah said...

Also Country Mouse and City Mouse.

Although now I'm thinking maybe you weren't including picture books, because there are probably a zillion of them.

Mom said...

Plus, there is the beautiful new Caldecott book, The Lion and the Mouse, which I brought to David's house the night before the ski trip. I think you are onto something, about the mouse idea, Davey. It's funny, since people don't usually like mice in real life.
Sarah, when you read David's posts about books like this, are you filled with excitement about reading books to and with your children? I am also sad, thinking about the children of America playing video games, in the time they formerly spent reading!
I thought the book and movie both sounded charming.

Mrs. Haid said...

I like Kate DiCamillo. Kids REALLY like that book, too, dear reader.
Also, I loved Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers when I was young. Almost as much as Darkwing Duck!!