"Love is ridiculous."
The Tale of Despereaux is a modern-day fairy tale. In fact, one might even suspect Kate DiCamillo of attempting to add her tale to the children' canon. After all, all the ingredients are here: an anthropomorphic rodent protagonist, an antagonist who eventually sees the light, a second antagonist who gets what's coming to him, the magic of courage/love, soup, and, of course, a beautiful princess.
The thing is, the truth of the tale is in the telling. If DiCamillo didn't write so openly and so enthusiastically, it would be easy to feel cynical. But honestly, this tale of the one brave mouse and how he eventually saves everyone didn't feel contrived to me at all. It almost feels like a love letter to the classics, albeit a letter without horrible recompense as a postscript.
The movie is pretty good too, unless you're Chris and have a crippling fear of computer-generated rodents.