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The Tale of Despereaux

Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread
Written by: Kate DiCamillo
Narrated by: Graeme Malcolm
Length: 3 hrs and 30 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

This is the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in darkness but covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl with a simple, impossible wish. These 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?

Listener, it is your destiny to find out.

©2003 Kate DiCamillo (P)2003 Random House, Inc., Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

  • Newbery Medal Winner, 2004, Most Distinguished American Children's Book

"A charming story of unlikely heroes....With a masterful hand, DiCamillo weaves four story lines together in a witty, suspenseful narrative that begs to be read aloud....This expanded fairy tale is entertaining, heartening, and, above all, great fun." (School Library Journal)
"Forgiveness, light, love, and soup. These essential ingredients combine into a tale that is as soul stirring as it is delicious." (Booklist)

What is it about mice? Ever since Aesop paired a little rodent with a mighty lion, mice have been the stars of literature. Stuart Little, the gallant Reepicheep of the Narnia books, the heroes of Redwall - mice all.

Now comes Despereaux, and he does his fore-mice proud. This is a wistful story that is given a properly dreamlike reading by Graeme Malcolm. You can imagine him sitting by a crackling fire as he tells the tale of a misfit, sensitive mouse who falls in love with a princess and finds his place in the world.

At 3-1/2 hours long, this is the perfect listen for a family trip. It's the kind of story that parents will appreciate for the lessons it imparts - and children will cherish for its memorable adventures of a determined mouse.

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ann Thackerq
  • 18-07-08

Flawless!

Finally an authoress who writes for the literate child, unafraid of vocabulary and more than capable of weaving an engaging tale. The naration is flawless!!!!!!

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kim Desko
  • 28-02-04

A fabulous family adventure!

My sons, 13 & 9, and I loved this book! It kept us coming back everytime we got in the car to find out what happened next. All the key elements to make it a classic adventure - suspense, heroic deeds, damsels in distress, knights in shining armour, and evil villians. If you like stories that begin "once upon a time....", give this one a listen. The story of a mouse, a princess, soup and a spool of red thread......

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • 08-01-05

Graeme Malcolm was perfect person to narrate!

This book has an unusual style of narration. Kate DiCamillo has the narrator speak directly to the audience, to ask them thought provoking questions, as if it was a tale told at their bedside.


As a 5th grade teacher, I have decided to make this a classroom read aloud. It is at times challenging with the way Ms. DiCamillo presents 3 timelines converging. That jump in sequence of events may need to be explained to younger readers/listeners. Yet it is well laid out, contains enriching vocabulary, and at times requires higher-level thinking or analysis. The story is not overly complex. In addition, it has many elements of other fairy tales. But, those elements only add to the charming way she has the characters and plot unfold.

Is this a book for the parents? No. Would I buy it just for me? No.
But I do believe it is a captivating and worthy listen/read for someone who is 9-14. Furthermore, it is a good book for a family to enjoy together. Listen and discuss the points or thoughts the narrator directs at the reader/listener, write a continuation of other tales, or just let it stand on it own as an enjoyable way to spend 3 hours. This book offers many ways to be enjoyed. It was well worth the investment.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stephanie
  • 25-12-09

Great story, well narrated

This story is so wonderful and so wonderfully well written. I love how the author makes the reader, or in this case listener part of the story. The narrator is fantastic. He reads clearly and dramatizes the voices so well. Both my 4 and 7 year olds love it.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ann
  • 18-10-09

Delicious through and through

A wonderful story, masterfully performed by Graeme Malcolm. Even my stoic husband would stand riveted, spoon in hand, or still dripping from the pool, whenever I had this on, not even trying to pretend he had some other reason for standing in the middle of the living room, other than listening to this story.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Diane
  • 13-02-05

A Grandmothers must have

I found this to be an enchanting Fairytale. The characters are charming and noble, the story is written in a way to cause suspense, and the morals true. Very delightful and inviting, this was a fun break from heavier books with a sweet light heartedness that appealed to me as an adult. I enjoyed the narrators style and learned a lot from listening to how he handled the various characters. After listening to this Newberry Medal author, I went right out and purchased the hard cover version to read aloud to my own grandchildren.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    out of 5 stars
  • Terry Armstrong
  • 31-05-09

The Best

Story and Reading, both exceptional!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • j
  • 19-11-12

Delightful for whole family

Where does The Tale of Despereaux rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The best family-friendly audiobook we've heard yet.

What did you like best about this story?

Perfect listening for my 6 and 9 year olds. A bit too much for the 4 year old. Had just enough depth as well to keep adults well-interested.

What about Graeme Malcolm’s performance did you like?

Differentiated the various character's with nuance and proper passion.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It did make one member of the family cry at the end and there were many laughs throughout.

Any additional comments?

Great length for kids too - four hours or so? Perfect for road trip.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Caitlin
  • 03-02-11

Brilliant! (Says the adult listener)

My younger sister first picked this book up in 4th grade, and has been in love with it ever since. I have been ignoring her pleas for me to read it for a very long time, thinking it was just another silly child's book about some cute furry animals. Boy was I wrong! I bought this audiobook, the book alone is a wonderful story, that slips in lessons on vocabulary that young ones will never notice, but will learn all the same, but then the narrator! The narrator tops it off. I have seen the movie already, and my friends, this audiobook is FAR better than the movie.

It's just a nice story, that isn't "too nice." The story is well told. It had my 25 year old self chuckling at parts, admiring sentences at others, and clinging to the edge of my seat at many. I ended up staying up until 2 am to finish it (don't start it in the evening) and nostalgically sad that it ended. And at just over 4 hours long, it would be perfect for one of those long car trips with the family!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mary
  • 28-03-08

Wonderful to listen to!

I loved listening to this! The narrator for this book was absolutely wonderful to listen to, and the story was great. The narrator was amazing at giving every character their own distinct voice. Very enjoyable.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Stacey
  • 30-03-17

The Buchan School Audiobook Club

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes we would because we enjoyed the characters especially Miggery Sow!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Tale of Despereaux?

Our most memorable part was banging of the mouse drum! BOOM, TAT, TAT! BOOM TAT, TAT!

Which scene did you most enjoy?

We loved the part when Despereaux met the Princess Pea.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, we were sad for Miggery Sow and the way she had been treated by her father, the cook and Roscuro.

Any additional comments?

This review was written by Theo, Grenya, Adam and Miss Newson from the Buchan School in the Isle of Man!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alexina
  • 29-05-14

Charming and amusing story

If you could sum up The Tale of Despereaux in three words, what would they be?

Charming, touching and amusing.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Tale of Despereaux?

Despereaux in the dungeons.

What about Graeme Malcolm’s performance did you like?

The accents were fantastic - particularly Despereaux's mother.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Both

Any additional comments?

A wonderfully old-fashioned tale of love and the battle between good and evil. My three children aged 11, 9 and 7 loved it along with my husband and I. A cracker!