Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo


Book Summary

Despereaux is looked down upon in the mouse community, because he is different.  He does not scurry, he is fascinated by music, and he would rather read books than nibble them.  Despereaux's family tries to convince him to be more normal, but his fascination with humans leads to his banishment with the rats underground.

Book Review

This is one of the most beautifully written books for children I've ever read. Many other characters in this book have relatable struggles, whether they are challenged by loss, love, power, or honor. The vocabulary is advanced, but the themes and story line are accessible to independent younger readers.

The Tale of Despereaux book cover
The Tale of Despereaux
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And the smell of soup crashed through his soul like a great wave, bringing with it the memory of light, the chandelier, the music, the laughter, everything, all the things that were not, would never, could never be available to him as a rat."  pp. 262-263

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Courage
  • Loyalty / Betrayal
  • Identity
  • Fairy Tales
  • Dreams; Wanting; Reality
  • Love
  • Doing the Impossible

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions Coming Soon**

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