Use these resources to teach students about folklore, have them analyze folktales that have been passed down from one generation to the next, and tell one of their own!
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
- When Despereaux returns to the dungeon to rescue the Princess Pea, he tells himself a story to cheer himself up. Imagine you are going to write a story to cheer yourself up. Where would the story take place? Who would be the main characters? How did these characters meet?
Despereaux tells himself the story on page 237. The story is very simple and directly reflects his own life. Look for answers that include a setting, a main character, and a storyline that brings him or her in contact with other characters.
- On page 149, the Princess Pea explains to Miggery Sow that she has made a tapestry showing the history of her world. Using reference books, see if you can find any famous tapestries from history. Then, just as the Princess Pea did, draw a history of your world. Include two people close to you and show each person doing a common activity.
In the Princess Pea's tapestry, her father is playing guitar and her mother is eating soup. In other words, each person is doing something he or she enjoys. Readers should feel free to mimic the Princess Pea's approach but with activities and people from their own lives.
- At the end of the story, we learn that Miggery Sow has been reunited with her father. Imagine Miggery comes back to the castle to visit the Princess Pea one year later. Now that you know what these characters are like and how they speak, write a scene showing Miggery and the Princess together again. What room are they in? What do they talk about? Is anyone else with them? Be sure to show how you think each character may have changed over the year.
The purpose of this activity is to test readers understanding of the characters and setting of the book. Readers should be able to characterize the general layout of the castle: dungeon, kitchen, banquet hall, princess's room etc... Likewise, readers should have a basic grasp of how Miggery Sow and the Princess speak and what they might say or do.