Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Tale of Despereaux

By Kate DiCamillo

Suzette has already posted an awesome review here. It is her review that convinced me to read this book. And here I must make my guilty confession: The first time I read it, I thought it was just okay.

It's a nice enough story, I thought. Maybe kind of simple for a sophisticated reader like myself, and those asides to the “gentle reader” are kind of distracting, but it’s a pleasant tale. Nice. Did I mention that it’s nice?

Then, I decided to read it to my daughter. Reading it aloud, I suddenly heard rhythms and cadences in DiCamillo’s writing that hadn’t been evident before. The words rolled off my tongue. They were almost hypnotic. Those asides to the reader felt natural and inviting. And the book was suddenly funny. My eavesdropping husband actually burst out laughing once. My daughter and I (and my husband, too, if he’d admit it) were enchanted.

I am repentant. This book is a delight, but one best enjoyed read aloud. Even if you don’t have children, try reading it aloud. I promise I won’t tell. 4/5 stars


Amanda said...

Maybe that's why I didn't get it. I hated this book. I gave it a 1-star review.

The Bradfords said...

Hooray Stephanie! I'm glad you enjoyed it. You hit the nail on the head about the cadences in her writing, it's almost poetic. You obviously hit another nail on the head with it being a read-aloud. I saw the movie with my kids. The verdict: I didn't like it. It was weird, too different from the book, and too many strange, out-of-place elements added. Two thumbs down for the movie. Why do those movie makers mess with these good books? Why? (Yeah, I know--$$$).

DiCamillo has written some early reader chapter books about a pig named Mercy Watson. Your daughter would probably enjoy those if she's reading on her own.

Stephanie said...

Amanda, reading it out loud saved it for me, but even when I read it the first time, I would have given it 3 stars. I'm not sure anything can salvage a one-star book!

Suzette, we'll probably see the movie (Katriel wants to see it badly) but every time I see a preview, I find myself asking, "Where was that in the book?" I'll have to find the chapter books. Katriel is reading so many books now...especially since she is doing the No TV Week thing.