Despereaux Tilling is a mouse. A very small mouse, with very large ears, who is very much in love with a princess. And that, as you can imagine, leads to complications. There's a dungeon that's a pitch-dark labyrinth, a serving girl with aspirations to princess-hood, a prohibition on soup, and a twisted, pathetic rat.
I, man. I don't like animal stories. I don't like talking animal stories, I don't like contemporary stories involving average, everyday animals. There are exceptions, obviously. I loved Plain Kate. Charlotte's Web is very dear to me, thanks to a teacher who read it aloud. All Disney movies, honestly, and of course, picture books. But the idea of picking up and reading a chapter book about talking animals is...well, I dragged my feet, let's say.
But, it's Kate DiCamillo. It's a Newbery winner. So, Despereaux. And it's so beautiful. The writing is so gorgeous, has such voice, that I actually cried over a three-paragraph coda. The story, honestly, is unremarkable--the plot itself, I mean, is one you might read anywhere. It's the storytelling that makes this book shine. Oh, Kate DiCamillo. I'll never doubt you again.