Forgiveness in Despereaux

One of the hardest things, I have found, is to forgive the people who have wronged us in some way. There is a scene where Despereaux comes face to face to his father after his father has sentenced him to death. Despereaux has run from the kitchen and is covered in flour making him look like a ghost. He interrupts the Mouse Counsel and his father is there. Despereaux has only been in the dungeon for perhaps a few days but his father has aged many years in that time. His father realized the sin he committed when he sent Despereaux to the rats. He asks Despereaux for his forgiveness. In that moment, Despereaux had to make a big choice that would affect the rest of his life. He could choose to forgive or not forgive his father. He decided to forgive him and by doing that Despereaux was able to heal his heart.

Another character who had a choice where he could have decided to forgive or not forgive, and that character is Roscuro. Roscure is very unusual for a rat because he sought the light and he did not delight in the suffering of others. He wanted something different from the other rats. He went to the human banquet one night because he was attracted to it. He was watching from a chandelier when Princess Pea saw him. She told everyone that she could see him. Roscure lost his balance and fell into the queen’s soup. The queen dies of fear. Roscure is so humiliated by everything that happened he vowed revenge against Princess Pea. He got his revenge by using Mig to force Princess Pea in the dungeon. Despereaux goes into the dungeon after them to rescue the Princess. In the end, what saves the Princess is her ability to feel empathy for others. She feels empathy for Roscuro and asks him to come with them. That they would share soup with him. Roscuro accepts. His heart is healed by this but it is healed crooked. Roscuro is struck in between being a rat and something else.

What I liked about this story is the fact that it was solved by forgiveness. Despereaux is able to become the knight he wanted to be by recognizing the pain his father caused him and letting it go. The Princess accepted the rat and gave him what he needed to heal. It was not solved by Despereaux fighting Roscuro but Roscure being offered a second chance. I think that this is a lesson children (and adult) need to learn is the importance of forgiveness. That it not only helps the person who is forgiven but the person who forgives.

Kira-Kira

Author: Cynthia Kadohata
Reading Range: 4.8
Interest Range: MG
Plot:  This story is set during the 1950s and it involves the Takeshima family who are Japanese. The story is told through the eyes of the middle child, Katie. Katie is telling the story of her family but also of her sister, Lynn. The girls are very close and shared everything. Lynn taught Katie to call everything kira-kira, which means glittering in Japanese.  Lynn is the beautiful, smart and popular daughter while Katie is the middle child. They have a Japanese grocery store in Iowa that goes broke because there are not enough Asian people to frequent the store. They moves to Chesterfield, Georgia so the mother and father can work in the chicken hatcheries where Uncle Katsuhisa has gotten them jobs. The parents work very hard to provide a minimal existence for their children. After several years of living in Georgia, Lynn becomes ill. At first,Katie’s parents keep telling her it is because her sister is anemic. Katie has to take over more and more responsibilities as her sister gets sicker. She must care for her little brother, Sam, as her parents work more and more to help take care of Lynn.Katie’s parents finally tell her Lynn is dying. The family has to get ready to say goodbye to Lynn.
Review: This story shows the love that two sisters can have for each other. Katie loves her sister. Her sister is the center of their family. She is the one they think is going to go far. She tries to give them hope even when they are struggling. That is what she meant by kira-kira. There are so many wonderful things in this world. She tries to tell Katie how wonderful she is. The Takeshima family struggles with racism and poverty. The parents work at a chicken hatchery where they are treated like slaves. The owner is cruel to his workers. He works them as hard as he can. It becomes harder for the family when Lynn becomes sick. They have to work even more to pay for her medicine. Lynn knew she was dying in the story. She tries to leave something beyond for her family to have hope after she dies. One of the themes of this story is to still have hope even when things are hard and bleak. This is a tough story to read because there are no easy answers. I would recommend this book to kids who like reading sad yet hopeful stories.
Additional Info:
 This book won the Newbury Medal for literature in 2005.
Main Characters:
Katie Takeshima-Katie is the middle daughter. She is the one who tells the story.
Lynn Takeshima-Lynn is the oldest daughter. She is smart and talented. She develops cancer.
Sam Takeshima-Sam is the youngest son.
Kiyoko Takeshima-Kiyoko is Katie, Sam, and Lynn’s mother. She is delicate and nervous but practical.
Masao Takeshima-Masao is the father of Katie, Lynn and Sam. He is a quiet and thoughtful man.
Uncle Katsuhisa-Katsuhisa is Masao’s brother. He helps the family after they lose their grocery store.

Theme:  Coming of age, Death, Everlasting love, Injustice, Love and sacrifice

Bibliographic Info:

Kadohata, Cynthia. (2004). Kira Kira. New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks.

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