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

Common Sense Media says

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

Users say

(out of 53 reviews)
age 8+
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Adult Written bymommynyc April 9, 2008


One of the worst books I have ever read to my children. The casual violence, including casual battering of a little girl, is stomach turning. Kate Di Camillo is the trendy favorite because she tries to make child abuse and abandonment the norm. It is not the norm, Kate, and it is not funny or entertaining.
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written byAvidreaders February 4, 2010
We are a household of avid readers. I read many genres, and would list reading as my most preferred recreation. Since I do have sensitive children, I try to pre-read many of the books they receive or that we buy for them. Let's see: rejection at birth, betrayal by family, rat-infested dark dungeon, weapon-wielding abduction of a little girl from her bed, rejection of another little girl by her mother and then she is sold by her father to an abusive household, .... Not a happy read by any of my standards. I don't get the appeal.
Parent of a 6 year old Written bybluebaker July 1, 2009

From start to finish, much darker than expected.

Our family, adults and children alike, had a hard time with this book and found that its gritty darkness was not nearly outweighed by the positives. Overall, themes such as betrayal, abandonment, abuse, mob vengance, and hopelessness made this book completely inappropriate for younger children, and unenjoyable for us. A more rewarding plot might have justified some of these issues for older readers, but unfortunately this was not the case.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 11 years old November 3, 2011

it's a one-day book, but its tale is very long

I actually read this book in one adventure-filled day, and I was glued to the book the whole way through. The book may be about a force smaller than your hand, but it was very energetic, exuberant, and especially detailed. Although sometimes it tripped up with its old-schooled royal talk, it's definitely a book I aim for kids days away from becoming official tweens.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Parent of a 5 and 12 year old Written bypwolfcale December 1, 2008

Great Theme

I loved the theme of dedication, love, and loyalty. However, I was rather saddened by the amount of violence and betrayal. I think the worst part was the story of Migery Sow's childhood. On a positive note, the new Junior Novelization seems to change the story line to remove the super negative parts of the orginal. If you are going to read it to your child you may want to prepar them. :)
Educator and Parent Written byThe Modern Muse February 24, 2015


The book is disturbing and inappropriate as a read aloud in school for students younger than high school. Young students think it's a great book but a teacher has a responsibility when introducing child abuse, detailed methodology on how to deceive and manipulate others, and cruelty to young children. I'm not sure how a teacher could read this aloud to a third grade class with a clear conscious. A young girl is abandoned, physically abused to the point of physical deformity and loss of hearing; not to mention the continuous degrading references towards her throughout the book. It's like reading the Jaycee Dugard story on a child's level. Very dark. I'll have to watch the movie; it must be lighter than this book. Kate DiCamillo (the author) ...she took creating modern fairy tales too far.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byluckey April 9, 2008

Great read!

This new fairy tale is a must read. Great for young and old! I enjoyed the style Dicamillo wrote about the characters.
Adult Written byxoxogini April 9, 2008
This book is good for the older middle schoolers. There are some questionable behaviors in the book but overall it is good.
Parent of a 12 year old Written bylaura123 May 21, 2009

This story is a book every kid out there to read my kid read it and he loved it!

this was a very good book what could be better then the story of cute little mouse whth cute little ears that loves a fair princess?
Parent of a 7 and 9 year old Written bySabieMom April 2, 2009

Plans to read it again and again

My 7 year old daughter and I read this together. She loved it and so did I. At her age it gives a great message. I think if she reads it again each year the story will be deeper each time. ....and as enjoyable as the first time.
Adult Written byrfgraham April 9, 2008

The most insulting hurtful piece of literature today

Newberry committee should be scolded! A child is abused and abandoned, not interesting enough? The author felt the child should be slow-witted, fat and lazy as well. How dare she make light of a child who is treated so shamefully. It added nothing to the story other than showing she had a “ridiculous wish” this author should be ashamed of herself. This is un-kind and insulting to the half million “at-risk” children in this country who dream of a day of safety. Those bitten by abandonment, afflicted with abuse and inoculated into a crumbling foster care system are entitled to have their wishes validated. “At risk” children are a growing epidemic in this country they are suffering a terrible disease. This disease is sometimes more debilitating and often just as deadly as many medical condition. For many of them it is a chronic illness from which they will never recover. Can we accept literature such as this to be read to our children? We should make light of Sick Kids too! I wouldn’t tell anyone to buy this rubbish, but get it at the library and read for you. This author owes 600,000 apologies. She should start writing NOW!
Parent Written byupstateNYmama July 4, 2016

very dark and violent, full of characters being cruel to each other

Common Sense Media gives this book a very positive “is it any good” and “what parents need to know” review— my experience was definitely the opposite. The book is very dark and violent— a huge percentage of the time the characters are being cruel to each other. Many of parental figures in the book are particularly horrific: a father who sells his daughter into slavery; a person whom a six year old calls “uncle” who beats her so regularly that she loses her hearing and her ears are shaped like cauliflower; a father who serves on a jury and votes to send his son to death in the dungeon. There are very few positive role models for how beings can be kind to each other. Yes, it all gets wrapped up in the end in a fairly positive way, but violence and cruelty are the norm all the way there.
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

I laughed, I cried, I read the book twice.

Love the book so, so much! It's a little bit long, however timeless. It's a must-read for everyone 8 and up. Loved it!!!
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

A very Good Book!

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 called 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? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

My favorite book

I really loved this book. i dont know it was something about i tthat made me go WOW!! :)
Kid, 9 years old October 19, 2011

a kids pespective

this book is relay good I am reading it at school it takes it,s time to relay explane detale and show who the cariktors are I am in year 3 and have only read 3 chapters but so fare it is fabulous.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 6 and 9 year old Written byMandM mama December 21, 2010
I love the character Despereaux. He is cute.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old September 23, 2010


I read it when i was seven so i have no problem with the age, but there was some violence involed. Despareaux is a good role because he follow his heart.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Parent of a 5 and 7 year old Written byJamie and James March 15, 2010

"I was touched"

When my son came back from school one day, they had read this book. He asked how to spell it-I can't spell it so I can't put it. I immediatly read this- I like reading books my children like. "Good" was James's way of putting it. "A real heartwarmer about a mouse-fantastic illustrations" is how I put it. I actually cried during some parts. I also loved it that he tried to read. "Humorous". I try to get my family to read more-I always loved it, and I like to know what my kids are reading. When I finished reading this, I "knew the difference between a rat and a mouse". True story*
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old March 10, 2010


a bit of a childish book... in a bad way.
What other families should know
Too much violence