I won’t be able to post until Friday night or Saturday Morning because of schedules.
Thank you for being patient!
Here is the second half for the first part of this week. Instead of going all the way to Chp. 16, I stopped at the end of the First Book.
Furlough goes to get his brother, Despereaux( who is reading the book…again) as the Mouse Council commands. Apparently, Despereaux’s falling in love is either rare for mice or just extremely trivial for his brother quickly dismisses it…several times. Mr. Big Ears just wants to read his book but apparently a Mouse Council is more important than any story so he goes.
Though the trial is rather long, it could be summed up rather quickly as well. The mice paparazzi were all there spreading “rumors” about Despereaux, who has a lot of things to say but none of them seem to matter to the Council. His mother does protest (yeah for the French!) and I concur with her when she inquires “…a touch? What of it?” So I guess it isn’t popular mouse law that it’s illegal to mess with humans. Despereaux refuses to renounce his actions and Princess Pea; but serious, what good would it have done? He was going to the rats anyways! In the end he faints, but he feels good inside.
Then we get to the Scarlet Letter…or the scarlet thread I should say…or even the scarlet noose. Poor Big Ears finds out that life isn’t a fairytale (a very sad truth). Strangely enough, the “threadmaster” is interested in Princess Pea and tells him to be brave but unfortunately makes no attempt to save Despereaux from his fate. Score two for the French when Despereaux’s mom lets us know what’s so terrible about the rats: they eat mice. Score three when she offers herself to take Despereaux’s place. But the score means nothing to the Council.
The author reminds us as Despereaux is being escorted to his dungeon detention to look up the meaning of “Perfidy” as it purposively direct relates to the story. So, here it is (from dictionary.com):
Perfidy: –noun, plural -dies.
1. Deliberate breach of faith or trust; faithlessness; treachery: perfidy that goes unpunished.
2. An act or instance of faithlessness or treachery
The author repeats Despereaux’s thoughts of “Perfidy. Pea.” and the reader is left to make the connection. It is obvious: Pea=treachery. Poor Big Ears. No happy ending for you yet!
In the dungeon, dark and alone, Despereaux considers that he doesn’t even exist. To assure himself, he talks aloud about Princess Pea, the knight and being brave. But of course, it isn’t long before he faints again. Someone was listening and he doesn’t seem to know what mice have to do with knights.
Enter Gregory the jailer: Someone who knows something about mice and talks in the third person (seems very likable). Despereaux is naïve again, wanting to be put down by the jailer and get killed. Luckily, this lonely jailer doesn’t let him get eaten. It gets kinda nasty as Gregory describes how rats murder their prey and leave “thread and bones”. It is impossible for Despereaux to die, however, for he is in love. Everyone in this story seems to think love is ridicules except Despereaux and Princess Pea!
Moving on, Gregory wants to be friends with Big Ears and DUH! Big Ears agrees because the alternative is death. He begins to tell a story and the First Book Ends.
Wow, a lot happens and I’m not quite sure how to compress it all so from here out I’ll just be posting whenever I have enough stuff OR at least Monday and Thursday.
“Book 1” in The Tale of Despereaux opens with a litter of mice being born, and the only one to survive is born with big ears and open eyes. Apparently, the mother – who is French (“mon dieu”) – is extremely self-centered, being highly disappointed that she did “all that work for nothing.” She goes so far as to name this lone mouse Despereaux because she thinks he is going to have a highly depressing life and will die in the near future.
The reader quickly learns hat Despereaux is very weak and sickly, the runt of the family no doubt. Though, as one might expect, he has extremely acute hearing, or at least a great appreciation of sound. It reminded me a bit of August Rush when Despereaux tells his brother that a noise he hears “sounds like honey.”
Besides music and sounds, Despereaux seems to have a special appreciation for simple beauty such as sunlight or a book. I thought it very interesting that he could read the book, where as it implies that mice only eat book pages. Perhaps these mice are just born with the ability to read. At any rate, when he reads the book – which tells the story of a princess and the brave knights that serves and protects her – it seems to be some kind of foreshadowing. The author also gives us a hint about how the rats will play into the story.
As hard as they try (though it seems as though their efforts were half-hearted) Despereaux’s family gives up on him, apparently he fails at being a mouse. Progressing in the plot, I loved the word picture the author used to describe how Despereaux felt at first hearing music: “The sound of the king’s music made Despereaux’s soul grow large and light inside of him.” I can easily picture that little, big-eared mesmerized by the song. When Despereaux looses all mousely instincts, it is entertaining to hear the king insist that the mouse is a bug.
Princess Pea is always first introduced in this scene. Since her father still sings songs to her every night before bed, it seems she would be rather young. Her articulate words, compassion and adamant attitude lead me to think that she is probably somewhere around the age of eight or nine. Old enough to be “her own person” but young enough as to not make the story too awkward.
When I first read that Despereaux was without a doubt, definitely, totally in love with Princess Pea, it made me think a lot of imprinting from Twilight. The idea that Despereaux was in love, perhaps something more than “in love”, for better or for worse, without a cure and without any choice. The fact that the author calls this love “ridicules” is spot on, though this silly emotion makes Despereaux seem even more naïve and innocent, leaving the reader no room ill-judge the small mouse.
A smile was brought to my face when Despereaux’s father learns how his son’s interactions with the humans and blames it on the French. It can be assumed he is specifically blaming the mother, as she is French. The mouse council is called. It appears that Despereaux is in BIG trouble for having a king as a friend and a Pea as a crush.
Back to Princess Pea, the king and the mouse, the author seems to refer to Despereaux’s ears in continually larger terms, as they are now not just big but “oversized.” And yet, Pea still refers to them as small, as they would appear to humans. The reader is entertained with funny dialogue between the princess and her father (more Pea-Attitude), but we also get some valuable information.
The queen hates rats, assumably from some dark history, and those would not like have a mouse as a friend as mice are “distant relatives” of the royal family’s enemies. Pea starts to cry when the king tells Despereaux to “scat”, but of course, being a mouse in love, Despereaux was not easily swayed. He speaks out to Pea, in the company of the humans (much larger than him) his voice must have sounded rather small and squeaky and beyond cute.
Finally the king gets him to run and I LOVE how Despereaux says “I honor you” to Pea before leaving just like the knight in the story. This adds to his innocent character, who obviously wants to be just like the knight but really doesn’t know much about knightly things beyond the book. If only he knew the trouble he was getting into.
At the mouse council, it is agreed that there is something wrong with Despereaux. Well, of course! A mouse will large ears, small body, sickly conditions and a lack of fear for humans MUST be alien! At least, that’s how the council seems to see things. I didn’t relate to them much, as of course the reader is meant to be on Despereaux’s side, but the author did a good job of making these issues seem very important.
Despereaux is condemned to the dungeon with the rats, for he is as bad as them it seems, though they do make a point to say that he can confess and at least “go to the dungeon with a pure heart.” Reminds me of National Treasure: “…you still go to jail but you feel better inside.” It seems that Despereaux’s father Leester is the only one grieved over this decision.
The first book I have chosen to read and analyze is The Tale Of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, who was also the author of Because of Winn-Dixie. I originally was going to begin with Brisinger but upon finding that I won’t be getting that book until my brithday on the 10th of November, I decided that Despereaux would be relatively short and easy to begin with.
The Tale Of Despereaux is the story of a mouse named Despereaux Tilling who loves “music, stories and a princess named Pea”. Other characters include Roscuro the rat and Miggery Sow the servant girl. I will be taking notes on all of the characters, but, as this is my second time reading this book, I am going to pay a little closer attention to Miggery and Roscuro specifically.
Despereaux 52 short chapters, filling up 268 pages. In order to finish this book by November 10th, my goal is to read 4 chapters or 22 pages each day. The first update will come on Monday, November 3rd.