Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Time for a Story - The Tale of Despereaux

We are huge storybook readers at our house. We read a few quick stories throughout the day; but always save "the best" story for nighttime. Lately, our nighttime reading ritual has ventured past the picture books and into books that test our literary stamina....books with chapters.

Our most current book that we wrapped ourselves up in is The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo. Winner of the Newbery Medal (in 2004), this is an adventurous story about a small mouse, a princess, some soup and a spool of thread.

This book is geared for the middle school age kid of 9-12, but I gave it a whirl reading it aloud to my 4 year old chapter-by-chapter at bedtime. Knowing full well that it was a little "advanced" for her age, I knew that we might have to abandon it if she showed lack of interest or if the vocabulary and themes were too advanced.

Although it does use some big words, it really was a great bedtime choice. The book reads aloud beautifully and has nice short chapters which break down easily for short sittings. Although illustrations are sparse, there are just enough of them to keep my young daughter interested and engaged.

Throughout the book, there are many different themes; examples being good and evil, light and dark, love and hate, forgiveness, ect. I loved the themes since it encouraged some great discussions after we were done with the chapter, right before the lights went out. I must warn, since it does have some "scary" parts in it (Despereaux does loose his tale with a kitchen knife at one point), I highly encourage parents of younger readers to read ahead before reading aloud.

We give The Tale of Despereaux the stamp of approval and recommend it to anyone that love a little talking mouse with their fantasy fiction!

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