The Tale of Despereaux
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.
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.
"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"
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