The following represent written classroom assignments which stand out in the esteem of the teacher and have been selected for publication. 


LAL Entry

By (Saumya, 5th grade)

Dear Kate DiCamillo,

I enjoyed meeting the fascinating characters in your book, The Tales of Despereaux. This tiny mouse with large ears is an outcast, as he doesn't understand the "normal" way to act. Other mice eat the books in the library, while Despereaux delights in reading them. I love how your book has two stories going on at the same time that come together in a sentimental ending. I cried so much while reading your book. Sometimes it was tears of joy, sometimes tears of sorrow. I went on an emotional rollercoaster, with suspenseful twists and turns.

The little mouse you created shows so much courage, he puts me to shame! But after reading your book, I, too, have learned to show courage, especially when I am in situations where I feel different from others. In my math class and math club group, I am the only girl. The first time I entered math club and saw I'd be working with boys, thoughts of transferring to the lower group flashed in my mind. Then I remembered Despereaux and how he never turned back while confronting situations which were much more challenging than mine.

Whenever I feel like cowering back into the shadows, I remember how Despereaux traveled through the dungeon with the red string tied around his neck. Even though the string was a mark of being ejected from the mouse society, he wore it as a mark of honor. This empowers me through whatever I am doing because I think, If this little mouse did something that most humans can't do, using only courage, I can face much less dangerous problems, as long as I hold fast to my courage. I have been in math club for a month now, and it is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Because of your amazing book, I found the determination to learn new math concepts in a tough group filled with strangers.

All people need courage each day in their lives. Finding it inside is very hard, for we can't conjure it from thin air. We have to plant our little seed and watch it grow by practicing and developing courage in the small situations we face every day. Once our plant has blossomed, we protect it by making sure it remains as courage and doesn't turn into pride. The thought should be: I can do this! not, I can do everything! Once we make exhibiting courage a habit, we can use it in more difficult circumstances, too. Just like Despereaux, we can apply bravery to block our own negative thoughts about being different.

I had to remember this when I entered my present school last year. At my old school I had lots friends, but I wasn't learning much. My classes became very easy and boring. Then my parents found another school with a more advanced curriculum. Sure, I wanted to go to a school where I would learn new things, but I needed courage to leave all my friends and walk into a frightening situation. Finally, I once again remembered my little friend, Despereaux, gathered my courage, and told my parents I would change schools. It turned out to be a great decision. I made friends immediately, and I have gained much valuable knowledge.

Thank you, Kate DiCamillo, for your inspiring book, The Tales of Despereaux. It has taught me that a kind heart overflowing with love and courage opens doors that lead to completed goals and dreams that become true. Everyone must search for his or her seed. I found mine in your book, and I hope others can, too.


Saumya M.