The Tale of Despereaux – Literature – Evaluation

The book is actually intended to be read by children in primary school. Nevertheless, its complexity in word choice as well as the usage of grammar is not suitable for early language learners. In particular, the reader has to distinguish among the characters not only by their behavior but also by their usage of style elements. For instance, slang and a simplified grammar is a typical feature of Miggery Sow. Therefore, the writing style of the book expects the reader to appreciate literature as a piece of art requiring an already existent sense of correct grammar and language. Unfortunately, the aimed target group of foreign language learners mostly does not fit the level of demanded skills. Nevertheless, the book enables young readers to enrich their vocabulary as well as general knowledge. Under the supervision of a teacher, guided reading overcomes the difficulties of beginners and broadens their young minds.

Moreover, most children are familiar with fairy tales and stories about good and evil including clearly identifiable roles. And that’s just where the book is situated. A chosen hero with more or less typical attributes of bravery and stubbornness tries to save the Princess. In this regard, a small mouse, Desperaux, is the hero defeating the evil. Although the story does not represent the stereotypical knight in shining armour on his quest, young readers, in particular teenagers, can easily identify with him. It is his uniqueness as well as his belief in himself that encourages them to remain true to themselves. Adolescents learn that the impossible is possible if they remain hopeful.

The timeless plot, the well placed outstanding characters, as well as the victory of an underestimated protagonist put the book on the best-selling lists and led to it receiving the ‘John Newbery Medal’ by the Association for Library in 2014.

Useful, for teachers tackling the book and the different levels of development in primary school is the availability of an adaptation. The audiovisual stimulation enables all kinds of learners to gain the same understanding. Moreover, the ability to evaluate different media critically is taught.

Finally, The Tale of Desperaux is highly recommendable since it offers young readers the opportunity to increase their vocabulary, showing them the artistic elements of language.  Lastly, the story impresses the reader with an exciting journey through the world of a small mouse in soup-banned kingdom.