The Tale of Despereaux: being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread by Kate DiCamillo, 4/5
This charming story begs to be read aloud near a cozy fireplace and I think even children too young to read would love hearing it. I appreciate that, in the style of all classic fairy tales, it does not shy away from portraying darkness to balance out the light. By acknowledging the violence and tragedy of existence in a matter-of-fact and age-appropriate way, the author puts a backbone in what might otherwise have been a silly, sappy, story for kids.
Why I read it: a student’s mom, Paige, recommended it in conversation.
Towns filled with soulless concrete architecture and jobless, shell suit-wearing inhabitants are prominent features in this entertaining collection of complaints and critiques (many of them written and submitted by each town’s own inhabitants). Almost more entertaining than the variety of inventive insults and tongue-in-cheek taunts are the rebuttals by MPs and county council members, which are hilarious in corresponding degree to their seriousness.
[Why I read it: the title caught my eye as I was browsing in the thrift store.]