Every fairytale needs a villain. But how often do you feel such deep feelings of empathy for the villain that you understand why he does everything he does? This story is called The Tale of Despereaux but it is also the tale of Roscuro, our aforementioned villain, Miggery Sow, the slow-witted serving girl who just wants to be a princess, and the beautiful Princess Pea, grieving for her dead mother, the queen.
DiCamillo weaves a beautiful tale of a banished, lovestruck mouse names Despereaux who falls in love with Princess Pea, the human whose family lives in the castle that is also shared with Despereaux's family and the other mice, and also the evil rats who inhabit the dungeons. Their lives are all intertwined - only they don't realise it. And when something terrible happens to the princess, it is up to the brave Despereaux to save them all. DiCamillo shows each character's story in equal light and the reader is able to feel for each of them involved. Each character is beautiful in their sadness but don't worry - of course there is a happy ending!
The themes of courage and forgiveness are central to this children's novel, which I argue can easily be enjoyed by all ages despite the large type and somewhat simplistic language. It reads like a fairytale and is an enchanting tale. Beautiful.