If you’ve checked Amazon, Kate DiCamillo’s 2004 Newbery Award Medal book, The Tale of Despereaux, receives lots of five-star reviews. It also receives a lot of one-star reviews.
Those who pooh-poohed the book didn’t like it that the author talks to her reader. I was enchanted by the technique. It works very well for a once-upon-a-time type story. AND in the process she teaches young readers new vocabulary words.
Critics consider the book too violent for the so-tender-psyches of their sensitive little munchkins. Oh. Is my sarcasm showing?
Yes, the book contains evil characters. The evil characters are cruel. A minor character dies. But the good guys win, and they win without violence. They maintain their nobility, and that’s only one of the things I love about this story.
I have no idea if Kate DiCamillo is a Christian or not, but I see so many Christian parallels in Despereraux’s story. In the interest of brevity, I offer you the following list:
- Despereaux, this tiny, insignificant mouse, has been born with a gift. You can call it a talent. I call it a spiritual gift.
- Despereaux chooses to follow his destiny, not conform to the crowd. Isn’t that what Christians are supposed to do? Isn’t our destiny, like Despereaux’s, to do good?
- The rest of the mice in the castle are like the world. Life is all about conforming and not making waves. Two of them remind me of Peter when he denied Christ and of Judas when he betrayed Him. (Can you guess who those characters are if you’ve read the book?)
- Like Jesus, the innocent Despereaux is tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Like Jesus, he returns from the “grave.”
- The rats could be considered demons, but I think it more likely they should be compared to evil people, for one rat longed for the Light, but disappointment and harsh treatment made him bitter.
- As the mouse and the princess prevail, forgiveness is a prominent theme.
- The pureness of heart in both the princess and in Despereaux prove victorious.
I’ve given away a good portion of the story, but really, you know the themes, not the plot. The subtitle is: “being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread.”
I never mentioned the soup or the thread, but I’ll give you a hint: all five nouns in the subtitle have to do with another major theme, Everything in Life Has a Purpose. The Bible has the same theme.
However this puts the fifth star in my rating, not just for The Tale of Despereaux but for any book: throughout the story, Despereaux and the princess live on hope, and by the end, each has discovered the power of unconditional, agapé love.
If you’ve read this little gem, let me know about other Christian parallels you may have noticed. And if you haven’t, add it to your To Read list, and let me know later.