“The Tale of Despereaux”: Read the Book. (Don’t Wait for the Movie.)

My review of The Tale of Despereaux is coming to Christianity Today Movies next Friday. For now, I’ll just say this: Read the book before you see the movie.

Please. Pretty please. You’ll thank me for it.

It’s one of those classic books like Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, or Barrie’s Peter Pan, or Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or Lewis’s Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or Macdonald’s Princess and the Curdie, or Ende’s Momo. It sits on my shelf of personal favorites right alongside those volumes. This movie is as different from the book as the movie Prince Caspian is different from the book. It’s not a *bad* movie, but believe me… it’s better to experience this story as a novel first than to crowd your head with an altogether different storyline, and different personalities for DiCamillo’s wonderful characters. More details coming on Friday…

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Jeff

    Thanks Jeffrey – in those few sentences you confirmed my suspiscions from the Despereaux trailer that the movie would be dramatically different from the book. Seems like they “Shreked” the story.

  • Julio

    I’ll second your plea, Jeffrey. The trailer is horrifying, while the book is SUCH a gem. I actually found it through a recommendation you made awhile back, so thanks for that!

    Back to topic, though, while the movie isn’t as bad as I fear, the book is definitely the way to go.

  • Gaith

    BTW, Jeff, were you as bothered by the mices’ human hands as I was in the trailer?

  • Gaith

    … And now it’s official. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the Mormon-inspired franchise helped release a Director’s Cut of “Compass”?

  • http://the-walrus-said.blogspot.com Janet

    I normally find that reading the book will often ruin the movie for me, but that seeing the movie doesn’t ruin the book. Maybe because I like the complexity of a book, and the greater degree of imaginative input that I have as a reader. Would your advice hold for someone like me? For instance, I saw The Children of Men with Clive Owens before reading the P.D. James book. They were vastly different stories, but the movie did not lessen my enjoyment of the book.


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