Tuesday, April 7, 2009
A mouse for millions ... (video clips)
During the summer of ’08 our oldest was introduced to a wonderful book titled, “The Tale of Despereaux,” a sensational tale authored by Kate DiCamillo about a courageous mouse with unique physical features (namely ears that resemble pancakes) and a more unique view of the world. In a world where mice are raised to be timid and fearful, Despereaux the mouse was adventurous and brave. He rode against the current of his community, reading books, seeking valiant escapades, and living without fear. Through the journey of his life, he encounters other members of various animal societies that share his penchant for difference. Their lives cross in the kingdom of Dor as Despereaux seeks life as a knight, and the tale flows from there.
As luck would have it, the folks at Universal Studios recognized the success of this novel and put the project into motion. “The Tale of Despereaux” hit theaters just a few weeks after our children had devoured the book and a rare opportunity to connect those two worlds arrived. Unfortunately, as often happens in life, the event kept eluding our schedules and we never made it to the theater, but our fortunes turned as the folks at Universal Studios sent the Mom In the Know an advanced copy of the flick on DVD and our children’s prayers were answered.
In sitting to watch the movie with our little ones, I made the following notes based on observations by our oldest daughter. She has read the book multiple times and continues to return to the story for entertainment, so it stood to reason that no critic might be as insightful as her. The following observations come direct from her mouth.
“No one likes Despereaux just because he is different, but they should all try to be like Despereaux. He reads books and isn’t afraid to fight for good.”
She has expressed her admiration for Despereaux for these same traits before, but they are the focus of the motion picture version of the story, and we applaud Universal for leaning in that direction. It is one of the best messages this story conveys and it is a lesson many children (especially young girls) can and should absorb.
“It doesn’t happen exactly like this in the book, but Despereaux never gets scared. They want to make him leave and he’s not scared because he wants to go on an adventure. They say he is bad for wanting an adventure, but he’s not and he’s happy they are making him go.”
I have not read the book from cover to cover myself, but I have read portions with my daughter and noted a few difference (it’s to be expected). Beyond that, the message shines through. Despereaux made choices, he accepted the consequences of those choices, and he found a way to turn those consequences into positive experiences.
“Despereaux is the hero because he never quit, and he never changed what he was doing because he wasn’t scared. He was brave and he made the others feel brave when they were with him, and that’s why they beat the rats and brought happiness back to the princess and king.”
If you know the story it makes more sense, but the message is simple. If you believe in what you are doing, others will believe in you and you can work together to influence positive change for us all.
Based on her review, the movie may not represent the most accurate account of the novel, but this is not a surprise. Movies are rarely given the time needed to detail such a story with accuracy, and as our daughter noted, the bulk of the positive messages from the tale were captured.
It’s a gift to be different.
There is beauty in curiosity.
You will get from the world what you give.
Those are messages any parent can appreciate, and they are the reason you should put a copy of “The Tale of Despereaux” in their DVD player (and on their bookshelf).