We sell an amazing amount of “Despereaux,” just like “Stuart Little” — I would equate it with that. These are classic stories. The book is amazingly sweet and pure and old-fashioned in that it is this very small story about gallantry and honor and forgiveness, which makes it safe to talk about things you wouldn’t ordinarily. But how do you take a very popular book that deals with plebeian themes and turn it into a blockbuster animated film?
After the movie, I quizzed all the kids around me. A lot of them had read the book, and they said, “It wasn’t the book, but it was good.” They’re two different animals, and yet, using visual metaphors, the filmmakers brought forth a lot of the book’s issues in a beautiful way. The core sentiment is there. When they walk into that beautiful library, Despereaux doesn’t eat the books physically, he has to eat them intellectually and emotionally. I think they set that up even more nicely than the book.
Lois Sarkisian owns Every Picture Tells a Story, a gallery of children’s book art in Santa Monica, Calif.