The Tale of Despereaux Activities

Despereaux Teaching Ideas

Are you looking for some Despereaux teaching ideas to go along with Kate DiCamillo’s terrific book The Tale of Despereaux? These are sure to be hit with students. Students will laugh at his antics, sympathize, and encourage Despereaux as he struggles to find his way in life.

The Tale of Despereaux Short Summary

Despereaux is an unusual mouse. He loves reading books and has a huge imagination. One day, he goes to Princess Pea’s room and hears her father playing his guitar and singing. Despereaux talks to Princess Pea because he is so caught up in the music. When Princess Pea picks Despereaux up for a closer look, he falls immediately in love with her. Despereaux’s brother, Furlough, witnesses the entire exchange. Furlough then runs and tells their father Lester what he has seen. Lester calls a meeting of the Mouse Council. The Council votes to send Despereaux to the dungeon where the rats live for breaking a “Mouse Rule.” The Thread Master ties the mark of death, a red piece of thread, around Despereaux. He is then pushed down the stairs into the dungeon.

To learn of Despereaux’s fate read The Tales of Desperaux.

Despereaux Teaching Ideas

Refugee Book Unit Samples

The Tale of Despereaux Novel Study

This sample includes activities from Chapters 1-3 including vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, and constructed response questions.

Despereaux Teaching Ideas  – Character Cards

Despereaux Teaching Ideas

If you are planning to use Kate DiCamillo’s terrific book The Tale of Despereaux, you’ll need these booklets for your students. The novel is full of rich characters that are difficult to remember when students first begin reading. With these printable booklets, students can jot down details about each of the main characters. This will help them remember the unusual names. 



Despereaux Teaching Ideas

Despereaux is an unusual mouse. Instead of spending his days scrounging for food scraps, he read books and listens to music. Despereaux falls in love with a book about a princess and a knight. Later, he meets a real princess and falls instantly in love with her. For this “terrible deed,” he is banished to the dungeon. There, Despereaux’s bravery shines through as he courageously battles the scary dungeon rats to keep Princess Pea safe after she is kidnapped.

Despereaux also exhibits his goodness when he forgives his family for sending him to the dungeon.

Chapter 40

But still, here are the words Despereaux Tilling spoke to his father. He said, “I forgive you, Pa.”
And he said those words because he sensed that it was the only way to save his own heart, to stop it from breaking in two. Despereaux, reader, spoke those words to save himself.


Princess Pea

Princess Pea

Princess Pea is loved by everyone in the kingdom. Not only is she beautiful but kind and compassionate as well. She lives a carefree life until her mother’s unexpected death. After this, she spends her time creating a tapestry to remember happier times.

When Princess Pea is kidnapped by Miggery Sow and taken to the dungeon, she doesn’t hate her. Instead, Princess Pea feels sympathy for the serving girl who is so unhappy with her life that she wants to be someone else.



Despereaux Teaching Ideas - Roscuro

Roscuro is different from the other rats that live in the dungeon at the castle. He longs to see light. One day he climbs the stairs of the castle. Infatuated with the brightness of everything, Roscuro climbs up on a chandelier to see everything. Princess Pea spots him and yells, “Rat!” This startles Roscuro so that he falls directly into the queen’s soup. Shocked by this, the queen dies. Roscuro becomes upset and bent on revenge. Together with Miggery Sow, the two kidnap Princess Pea in a plot to “get even.”


Miggery Sow

Miggery Sow

Miggery Sow is basically a slave. She was sold by her father for a tablecloth, a hen, and some cigarettes. Mig ends up with a master who beats her until she is half-deaf. She dreams of being a princess. In Mig’s mind, this is all she needs to be happy. She schemes a plot with Roscuro to kidnap Princess Pea. Mig thinks she will just step into the princess’s shoes once she is gone. Mig later realizes she has made a mistake by working with Roscuro and helps Despereaux save the princess. She is rewarded for being good.


Gregory the Jailer

Despereaux Teaching Ideas - Gregory the Jailer

Gregory the Jailer stays in the dungeon looking out for the prisoners. Because he doesn’t have a light, Gregory keeps from getting lost in the maze of the dungeon by tying a rope to his ankle. Spending so much time in the dark dungeon has turned Gregory into a wild creature. He gobbles down his food eating bones and all.

Gregory does have some good qualities. He decides to help Despereaux by helping him escape from the dungeon. In the revenge plan Roscuro cooks up to kidnap the princess, Gregory must be occupied so he doesn’t catch on to the plan. Roscuro cuts through Gregory’s rope, so he is permanently lost in the dungeon’s maze.



Botticelli is a rat that lives in the dungeon. He behaves the way a normal rat should. Throughout the story, Botticeli encourages Roscuro to carry out the plan to kidnap Princess Pea.


See the product that inspired this post.

The Tale of Despereaux Novel Study

The Tale of Despereaux Novel Study includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice. 

Gay Miller

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