- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (April 11 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0763625299
- ISBN-13: 978-0763625290
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 227 g
- Average Customer Review: 69 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #148,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread Paperback – Apr 11 2006
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About the Author
Kate DiCamillo lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is the author of BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, a Newbery Honor book, and THE TIGER RISING, which was a National Book Award Finalist. Kate DiCamillo says, "A few years ago, my best friend’s son asked me if I would write a story for him. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I don’t normally write stories on command.’ ‘But this is a story that I know you would want to tell,’ he said. ‘It’s about an unlikely hero. He has exceptionally large ears.’ ‘What happens to this hero?’ I asked. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘That’s why I want you to write it down, so we can find out.’ Well, Luke Bailey, three years later, here is the story of what happened to your exceptionally large-eared, unlikely hero."
Timothy Basil Ering is the author and illustrator of THE STORY OF FROG BELLY RAT BONE, and he also created the cover image and interior black-and-white drawings for 33 SNOWFISH by Adam Rapp. Of his inspiration for the illustrations in The TALE OF DESPEREAUX, he says, "My mother may have been a mouse in her past life, as I watched her save and help so many mice in our house while I was growing up. The illustrations I’ve done of Despereaux Tilling are, in a way, my tribute to her." Timothy Basil Ering’s artwork has appeared in books, magazines, theater sets, private murals, and fine art galleries.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
CHAPTER ONE: THE LAST ONE
This story begins within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse. A small mouse. The last mouse born to his parents and the only one of his litter to be born alive.
"Where are my babies?" said the exhausted mother when the ordeal was through. "Show to me my babies."
The father mouse held the one small mouse up high.
"There is only this one," he said. "The others are dead."
"Mon Dieu, just the one mouse baby?"
"Just the one. Will you name him?"
"All of that work for nothing," said the mother. She sighed. "It is so sad. It is such the disappointment." She was a French mouse who had arrived at the castle long ago in the luggage of a visiting French diplomat. "Disappointment" was one of her favorite words. She used it often.
"Will you name him?" repeated the father.
"Will I name him? Will I name him? Of course, I will name him, but he will only die like the others. Oh, so sad. Oh, such the tragedy."
The mouse mother held a handkerchief to her nose and then waved it in front of her face. She sniffed. "I will name him. Yes. I will name this mouse Despereaux, for all the sadness, for the many despairs in this place. Now, where is my mirror?"
Her husband handed her a small shard of mirror. The mouse mother, whose name was Antoinette, looked at her reflection and gasped aloud. "Toulèse," she said to one of her sons, "get for me my makeup bag. My eyes are a fright."
While Antoinette touched up her eye makeup, the mouse father put Despereaux down on a bed made of blanket scraps. The April sun, weak but determined, shone through a castle window and from there squeezed itself through a small hole in the wall and placed one golden finger on the little mouse.
The other, older mice children gathered around to stare at Despereaux.
"His ears are too big," said his sister Merlot. "Those are the biggest ears I've ever seen."
"Look," said a brother named Furlough, "his eyes are open. Pa, his eyes are open. They shouldn't be open."
It is true. Despereaux's eyes should not have been open. But they were. He was staring at the sun reflecting off his mother's mirror. The light was shining onto the ceiling in an oval of brilliance, and he was smiling up at the sight.
"There's something wrong with him," said the father. "Leave him alone."
Despereaux's brothers and sisters stepped back, away from the new mouse.
"This is the last," proclaimed Antoinette from her bed. "I will have no more mice babies. They are such the disappointment. They are hard on my beauty. They ruin, for me, my looks. This is the last one. No more."
"The last one," said the father. "And he'll be dead soon. He can't live. Not with his eyes open like that."
But, reader, he did live.
This is his story.
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering. Text copyright (c) 2006 by Kate DiCamillo. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
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The wonderful thing is your students will just think you are reading them the BEST story ever. I read chapters 1-3 aloud and then stopped. The kids sent up a chorus of "Nooo, Don't Stop!!!"
We sold so many hard cover copies of the book at our school book fair that we had to reorder several times. Parent were remarking, "He has never begged me for a book before..."
Dust off your French accent and have fun. You will enjoy reading this book aloud as much as your students will enjoy listening to it.
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