The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick Press, 2003.
I bought this book because I found it in a thrift store, and I knew it was a Newbery winner.
I did not love this book. I wanted to, and I thought I would love it, but I didn't. Despite the wonderful illustrations, I didn't even really like this book.
I do not like the smug asides of 'Dear Reader'. I never have. I was willing to overlook them for the sake of the story, though.
I do not like unmitigated brutality. Especially to children. Again, I could have overlooked that for the sake of the story.
But what if I don't especially like the story? I get the play on light and dark (chiaroscuro), I mean, it IS the name of one of the main characters. But here the book and the movie differ. And here the movie got what the book missed. Yes, you need darkness to appreciate the light, but darkness, especially in a children's book, should never consume the light. And forgiveness works both ways -- a princess may forgive a rat, but the rat may also forgive the princess.