Saturday, May 2, 2009

"The Tale of Despereaux" Book Club Party

A few months back we began reading The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo. We weren't always faithful with our reading, which is why it took us so long to finish! It is a fairy tale about an unlikely hero. The book has many important teachable moments including forgiveness. It really is a fun read aloud. We especially enjoyed how DiCamillo talked to us, the reader, throughout the story.

Our goal initially was to finish the book in time to watch the movie when it first came out on DVD. Well, we missed that date, but we stuck with it and finished the book on Thursday evening. We had rented the movie through Netflix and had it waiting for our party planned for Friday.

Those who have read the book or watched the movie know that soup plays a big role in the story. We decided to have soup for dinner. I threw together something that I have named Carissa's Lasagna Soup.

~ Carissa's Lasagna Soup ~

I'm afraid I don't really have a "recipe" to share with you. I can tell you what I did and what I put in my soup, but I don't have any concrete measurements.

I started off by sauteeing an onion and 2 ribs of celery in oil in a large pot. Once they were soft, I added a pound of ground beef and cooked until the beef was brown. Then I added about 2 cups of beef broth, 3 cups of bean broth (the broth from the batch of beans I'd cooked the day before), and a can of crushed tomatoes. You definitely don't need the bean broth - I just thought it would be a good way to use it up.

I also added quite a bit of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Be sure to taste everything you make before serving it and adjust the spices as needed. I let the pot simmer for about 30 minutes. (I was waiting for my loaf of Light Oat Bread to finish in the bread machine.) The last step was to add some pasta. I used mafalda because it reminded me of lasagna noodles. I was really pleased with how tasty the soup turned out.

During dinner I used some discussion questions I found online to start a conversation about the book. I was surprised at how enthusiastic the boys were to talk about the story. I was afraid they would find it too much like school and not want to participate. We all got more out of the book by discussing it together.

Once we were finished eating, the boys drew a picture about a scene from the book. Then it was time for our movie!

I thought the movie was cute, but I also found myself constantly comparing it to the book, which I always do. The movie takes a lot of poetic license with the story. However, when I asked the boys if they minded that the movie was so different from the book, Sully's response was, "No. I like it. When you've read the book, you know what's going to happen. So, if the movie is different, it keeps it more exciting." I guess I can't really argue with him on that point! Just beware if you read the book first - the movie does not follow it exactly.

Our first book club party was a success and we can't wait to begin our next story!

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