The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread

Book review by Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 8+

Brave mouse adventure a modern classic; great read-aloud.

Parents say

age 9+

Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 8+

Based on 41 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 13+

Really dark tale

Honestly, I’m a bit horrified that this is a supposed to be a child’s book(?). The content is dark and scary, and many descriptive passages are unnecessarily creepy ( including death, blood, screams of terror and agony, etc) . My sons first grade teacher assigned this as a book for the class, and here I am reading it to my 7yo and having to heavily edit as I read aloud, in the hopes that I can avoid him having nightmares about being eaten alive by evil rats in a pitch black dungeon that flows with blood and muck. Charming, eh? WTH?
1 person found this helpful.
age 7+

The honest truth about The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux is a story that follows three characters stories, Despereaux the mouse, Chiaroscuro the rat, and Miggery Sow, a young girl. It tells a story from these different points of view in order to show that a story is never one-sided, helping children learn empathy and compassion. While the story does touch on topics of abuse, abandonment, and violence, you have to remember that you are looking at it from an adult point of view. We see what's on the media and know very well the weight of these topics. Children, on the other hand, most likely don't know much about it. This story holds their hand and shows them these topics in ways they can understand, all while telling them that while there is this darkness in the world, there is also light at the end. It teaches them that it's okay to be scared, sad, and upset. It shows them that you can still be brave at the same time. I read this when I was very young, and it helped me a lot. In fact, it's a book I read whenever I am in a bad place or sad because it shows that there is always hope. The characters aren't perfect, they aren't meant to be perfect, because if they were then they couldn't be considered human (or mouse, or rat). Instead, the characters learn and grow throughout the story, and help each other grow. While as an adult we can look at the story and really dig deep, noticing dark themes, a child won't be doing so. They will be enjoying a story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Book Details

Our Editors Recommend

For kids who love adventure and fairy tales

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