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Tale of Despereaux

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I admit it. I got this book from the library after learning that it would be an animated film this winter. I figured that The Flash would want to see the movie when it comes out, and being the educator-mom that I am, I would pre-teach to the movie.

Pathetic?

I know.

What I did not anticipate, however, was how excellent this book would be.

The Newberry Medal on the front cover should have tipped me off.

Something you should know about me: I am a fairy-tale fanatic.

Proof? How’s this:
-I idolized Ariel from The Little Mermaid and attempted to draw her and the characters for years. I memorized every line from that movie and wanted to name my first born after a character in the movie.
-I woke up at 4am to watch Princess Diana and Prince Charles marry in 1981
-I took a class in college on Fairy-Tales, from the French department (mon Dieu!)
-The theme song from the Princess Bride was the first dance song at my wedding

Need I go on?

This book has it all. A knight (read: mouse) attempting to rescue a princess (aptly named: “Pea”) from a villain (read: rat) in a dungeon (read: dark prison) of a castle (read: castle).

Although longer than the other chapter books I’ve read aloud, I did not want to stop reading each night. I just wanted to stay up late and keep reading and reading. Darn these great books!

The narrator treats the reader as a confident, and addresses the reader periodically throughout the tale. “Reader, do you know what ‘perfidy’ means?” And then the author actually (shocked gasp by all teachers) tells the reader to look the word up in the dictionary . ( I know, I know. I went to the computer and looked it up in dictionary.com because I don’t even own a paper dictionary )

Speech Therapy ideas:
1. The vocabulary in this book is magnificent. It is easy enough for a younger child to understand the plot (around 5 years old), but rich enough to challenge even an adult (I had no idea what perfidy meant). Work with your child to master some of this vocabulary and then practice using it in casual conversation. Your family will sound brilliant!
2. The chronological time of the book skips back and forth several times. Have your child work on retelling small portions of the story, and then the general plot of the entire book.
3. Ask deeper questions about the book. Why did the rat want to torture the princess? Why did Desperaux forgive his father? There are great deep thinking questions listed in the resources below.
4. Re-enact part of the book. This story would make a wonderful play. Find some crowns, spoons, capes, and put on a performance!

Apparently, teachers been using this book in the classroom for several years. There is a plethora of web resources to get more ideas:
Scholastic.com
enotes.com
goodreads.com
Merry Bee Presents
Lit Plans (I really like this one)
Eduscapes

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12 Comments

  1. Oh, I love fairy tales too! And this movie looks fantastic. I’ll have to check the book out for my youngest. The story sounds great!
    Becky
    PS The Princess Bride is a favorite at my house!

  2. My bridesmaids walked down the aisle to the theme of the Princess Bride, and one of our readings was from the book.

  3. You mean most people DIDN’T wake up early in the morning to see Princess Di’s wedding!??!? I totally wanted to be one of her bridesmaids (Brit speak: flower girls).

    And you know why there are so many mouse/ rat stories out there right now, don’t you? I have a theory. It’s the Year of the Rat. I totally think that’s why. Seriously. (Not really.)

  4. I love fairy tales! I bought my daughter the movie The Princess Bride and Willow and few years ago and she loves them.

  5. Hey thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving the thoughtful comments!

    I am def gonna have to check out this book. I too love fairy tales and fantasy stories. And I also STILL know all the words to The Little Mermaid. In fact, when my son was young and fussy I would sing Little Mermaid songs to him (“look at this stuff/isn’t it neat”)

    Yeah I know . . . I am a dork.

  6. Forget Peaches reading this, I want to read it! Sounds great, I love faerie stories. (he he, I’m in Scotland right now – I’ll spell faeries in the spooky way!)

  7. Why, why, why do I not have any clients the right age for this book? Hopefully I’ll get one soon; it sounds fantastic!

  8. Now THAT is my kind of book and NOT just because it has a mouse (*lie*) and because I like the cover (*lie #2*).

  9. I have seen this book several times at the book store or in the Scholastic flyers and I haven’t picked it up. I will have to next time I’m out (or request it from the library). Even though my dd is too young for it (18 mn) I would like to read it for myself.

  10. My daughter has read this and I’ve always meant to read this. BUT, now that I’ve seen the preview of what looks to be a darling movie… we are all gonna read it.

    We have a big rule around here that we can’t watch any book based movie without reading the book/books first.

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