If you have children, or even if you don't but simply enjoy children's literature, I recommend The Tale of Desperaux, a 2004 Newbery Medal winner by Kate DiCamillo, a charming, off-beat book, which was recently released as an animated film, starring Matthew Broderick, Emma Watson, Signourney Weaver, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman, and others.
Here's the basic story of The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread. Despereaux Trilling, a misfit mouse, is born with courage, which a mouse should never possess. Despereaux can also read, which further sets him apart and introduces him to other worlds and great ideas. Because he's so different from the other mice, he's banished from Mouseworld, and the unthinkable happens--Despereaux is befriended by a rat, Roscuro, who's intrigued by Despereaux's stories of the faraway kingdom of Dor, where a king grieves for his late queen, and a princess feels lonely. In fact, all the villagers are suffering, in need of both rain and soup. Will this little mouse with the big ears be able to save the kingdom of Dor?
It is an enchanting book, and although the movie does not follow the book too closely, the movie is also quite entertaining. I really don't expect movies to follow the books they're based on all that closely, although some do. Stephen King sums it up well when he says that to compare a book with a movie is like comparing an apple with an orange. They are different fruits. That being said, though, I do wonder what authors think when their books are made into movies--hopefully, they are satisfied with how their books are translated to the silver screen.
Happy New Year to all of my readers!