December 2015

The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

Kate DiCamillo

Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat named Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives. And what happens then? It is your destiny to find out!

Family Friendly Activities for the Book of the Month

  1. The name Desperaux comes from the words ‘desperate’ and ‘despair’. What do these two words mean? Why do you think author Kate DiCamillo chose this name for her mouse hero? Can you find examples in the book when Despereaux might be acting desperate or in despair?

  2. The four connected stories in the book teach us about having different perspectives and how our own actions might affect others. Whose perspective do you identify with most in the story? Imagine that you are Roscuro the rat. How do you feel when Princess Pea looks at you in disgust after you fall into the soup? How do you think the King might feel when you steal the Queen’s spoon for revenge?

  3. Many of the characters in The Tale of Despereaux have lots of rules to follow. Why do we have rules? Are rules good for everyone, or do some rules seem silly? Which characters in the story broke the rules? Make a list of the rules that you follow every day!

  4. In this book, mice and rats seem very different, but they share some similar qualities. Head to your local library to do some research on mice and rats. Take notes on their physical appearances, food, habitats, and behaviors. How are these two rodents alike? How are they different? Make a Venn Diagram to display what you find!

  5. All of the characters live in different parts of the same castle. The author uses many adjectives and scenarios to help us envision what the castle is like. Use the descriptions and information provided in the book to draw what you think their castle might look like! Show a friend where all of the characters live in your drawing.

A Note from the First Lady:

Dear Read20 Book Club families,

The Tale of Despereaux is an endearing story of an unlikely hero: a small mouse with big ears and even bigger dreams! When Despereaux Tilling falls in love with Princess Pea and even speaks to her (a horrible crime in the world of mice!), he is banished to the dungeon to die with the rats. With a little persistence and some creative adventuring, the brave mouse’s life connects with a rat who loves the light, a servant girl who wishes to be royal, and his great love Princess Pea in a dramatic ending!

As with all of the best stories, there are important lessons tucked away throughout the journey. It is amazing what we can learn from the characters in this story! Through four chapters, each told from the perspective of a different character, we encounter forgiveness, empathy, jealousy, love, and courage. Tales like these allow readers to connect with each character’s emotions, as they begin to comprehend their own experiences and feelings. After reading this book, I hope you will think about how you might feel if you were Despereaux, Roscuro, or Miggery. Use your imagination to put yourself in someone else’s place!

Keep up the great reading!

Crissy Haslam
First Lady of Tennessee