The Tale Of Despereaux Summary

Kate DiCamillo

The Tale Of Despereaux

  • Plot overview and analysis written by an experienced literary critic.
  • Full study guide for this title currently under development.
  • To be notified when we launch a full study guide, please contact us.

The Tale Of Despereaux Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of The Tale Of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo.

The Tale of Desperaux is a fantasy book, written in 2003, by Kate DiCamillo. In 2004, the book won the Newbery Medal award. The U.S. National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children”, based on an online poll, in 2007. The teachers also made it a summer reading project, and in 2012 it was ranked as number 51 among the all-time children’s novels in a survey that was published by the School Library Journal. It was the second of three books written by Dicamillo that made it into the Top 100. The book was adapted into an animated film of the same named in 2008. The novel is divided into four separate “books” and ends with a coda. Each book tells the story from the perspective of a different person or group of characters. Despereaux, Roscuro, and Miggery Sow, all have their own perspective represented in one book each, and then they are all represented in the final book.

The Tale of Despereaux is the story of a very unusual hero, a mouse. Despereaux, the main character, is a mouse who lives in a castle; he was born with his eyes open, and lives his life in the same way. He is always looking for adventure and love, exploring places where other mice are afraid to go. Despereaux is the last of his litter to be born, and the only one to survive for as long as he has. As a result, the rest of his family believes he will not survive his infancy. All of these things make him an oddity. His mother is selfish but his father is a loving husband. Despereaux refuses to be afraid of humans, and goes searching for crumbs one day, as the rest of his siblings do. He breaks the number one rule, however, and lets himself be seen by the King and the Princess Pea. He does this in order to listen to some music.

Despereaux’s brother tells his father about this bad behavior. His father is angry, as he is passionately loyal to the castle. He decides that listening to music is the last straw for his son. He calls the Mouse Council together to discuss Despereaux’s most recent behavior. The council decides that they have no other choice but to punish Despereaux, and they condemn him to death in the dungeon.

There follows a rather unusual ceremony, during which Despereaux has a red thread tied around his neck and is sent into the dungeon. He arrives on his own, and sees that the dungeon is a dark, sad place. He meets the dungeon keeper, named Gregory. Gregory takes Despereaux under his wing, and promises to protect him from the many rats which live in the dungeon.

Roscuro is an unusual rat, who, unlike his fellow rats, is fascinated by the light. One day, Roscuro decides to go upstairs and explore. He finds himself in a dining room, right in the middle of a dinner party. He climbs up the chandelier, in order to get a better view of what is happening. Princess Pea sees him and shouts, which startles Roscuro and causes him to fall. Roscuro falls into the queen’s soup bowl, and she dies of shock. The king is traumatized by the queen’s death, and decides to outlaw both rats and soup throughout the kingdom.

The next book is told from the perspective of Miggery Sow. Miggery is a servant girl who was brought into the castle after a soldier found her. A man had claimed to have bought her from the girl’s father, so the soldier brought her to the castle to work as a servant. She isn’t very good at her job, however, being lazy and easily distracted. Miggery dreams of one day being a princess. Roscuro approaches her one day and suggests that they kidnap the Princess Pea, and Miggery thinks this is a splendid idea.

Despereaux is able to make his way upstairs after Gregory sneaks him onto his dinner tray after a meal. Despereaux hides in the kitchen pantry, where he hears Roscuro and Miggery’s secret plan to kidnap the princess. Roscuro is going to lock the Princess Pea in the dungeon. Despereaux is in love with the Princess, and hastried to warn the King that his daughter is in danger, but he is suspicious of all rodents, and does not believe Despereaux. Despereaux decides he must save the princess himself. Despereaux returns to the dungeon, using a spool of thread to keep from getting lost, but he loses the spool. When a rat offers to help him, Despereaux is brought to Princess Pea. Roscuro intends to fight back but he is distracted when he smells soup on Despereaux’s breath. The Princess promises to let Roscuro eat soup if he will let her go.

Despereaux returns the Princess Pea to safety, becomes a hero and Pea’s close friend. Roscuro is redeemed and allowed to come into the light whenever he wants. Miggery Sow is reunited with her father. Soup is once again on the Kingdom’s menu.