This is a tale about a mouse, a princess, a king, some soup, a rat, a servant girl, a treacherous plan of revenge gone wrong. The story takes place in a castle and the dungeon underneath the castle.
The mouse, Desperaux Tilling his name, was born as the last mouse to his parents and the only surviving one of his litter. Desperaux was born so small, with two huge ears, and with eyes open, staring directly to light. Instead of being so small and sickly, the strange little mouse lived. And he was nothing like other mice. He listened to music, he loved the light, and he read pages of books instead of eating them.
“Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.”
Interesting fate it was. One day when Desperaux lifted up his head to listen to the sweet sweet music, the music brought him to encounter the king and his beloved daughter, the Princess Pea. The princess looked down at him and smiled at the little mouse. As ridiculous as it might be, Desperaux fell in love.
“Love is ridiculous. But love is also wonderful. And powerful. And Desperaux’s love for the princess would prove, in time, to be all these things: powerful, wonderful, and ridiculous.”
Desperaux’s little encounter with the king and the princess then brought him serious consequence: the Mouse Council decided to punish him by sending him to the dungeon. Dungeon means deep darkness. It also means rats. And rats never meant a good thing.
While we’re still talking about rats, there was one peculiar rat that lived in the dungeon. Unlike his rat brothers and sisters, Chiaroscuro, or Roscuro, loved being surrounded by light. He too, like Desperaux, had a little encounter with the king and the princess, only then he also meets the queen. His encounter with the royal family was followed by a tragedy, which caused the king to ban soup and all soup-related items like bowls and soup spoons. The look the princess Pea gave Roscuro broke his heart and made him desire revenge. A servant girl called Miggery Sow then helped the rat to execute his plan.
The princess was in danger. What will Desperaux do? Could it be that a little mouse, in spite of all circumstances, helps the lovely princess and save her from harm? The answer to this question, dear reader, you must read in this remarkable book, winner of Newbery Medal 2004, The Tale of Desperaux.
I have always been a fan of Kate DiCamillo, whom I love for her extraordinary writing. Kate can make a simple story so beautiful with her brilliant choice of words. Her sentences flow like a song, and I’m not exaggerating. That’s what I felt when I read The Magician’s Elephant. The book broke my heart and I felt myself crying alongside the main character. Reading The Tale of Desperaux gave me a similar feeling, although it wasn’t as dark as The Magician’s Elephant. I’m really glad I bought a copy of this book in English and not the Indonesian translation, this time I can really succumb into Kate DiCamillo’s beautiful writing. This book also has nice illustrations by Timothy Basil Ering. Parents, you should read this to your kids, I’m sure they’ll love it. 😉
“Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light.”
P.S.: You can also read a post about the character Desperaux here (in Indonesian).
“The Tale of Desperaux”, by Kate DiCamillo
272 pages Paperback, published 2008 by Candlewick Press
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥