Cheshire Cheese Cat

Book Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Deedy, Carmen Agra.  The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale; written by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright; illus. by Barry Moser.  Peachtree, 2011.  234p.  ISBN 978-1-56145-595-9.  $16.95.  Ad Gr. 3-5.

A friendship between an alley cat and a mouse seems unlikely, and yet that is precisely what happens thanks to Skilley’s aversion to eating rodents and his preference for cheese. When Skilley the cat finds a home in the venerable pub Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, in Victorian London, he strikes a deal with Pip, a resident mouse: Skilley vows to only make a show of catching and eating the pub’s many mice, while Pip and the other mice promise to keep Skilley well stocked with plenty of the pub’s amazing cheese. Complicating this plan are the arrival of Skilley’s violent feline nemesis, Pinch, and Skilley’s discovery of Maldwyn, one of the Tower of London’s revered ravens, now a hidden resident of the pub after being rescued by the pub owner’s daughter. A humorous side story involves Charles Dickens searching desperately for an opening sentence for A Tale of Two Cities, which Pip eventually provides. Indeed, there are numerous nods to Dickens here, and the intended audience will unfortunately miss most of those references. The book also becomes preachy at times, and the human characters are considerably less interesting than the animal ones. Solid messages about friendship, loyalty, and being true to oneself are nevertheless effectively conveyed, and readers will likely enjoy the primary animal story, while historical fiction fans will appreciate the Victorian atmosphere. Moser’s softly shaded graphite illustrations, appearing in vignette spot art throughout, offer personable portraits, especially strong in their depictions of the animal characters.  JH

Horn Book Guide:
Deedy, Carmen Agra and Randall Wright. The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale
234 pp. Peachtree 2011. IBSN 978-1-56145-595-9
(3) 3-6 Illustrated by Barry Moser.
Skilley the cat finds the “purrfect” job at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Inn. There he poses as a mouser, but he’s actually protecting the large mouse community in exchange for cheese. As he befriends the mice and fights a cruel alley cat, he’s drawn into the world of Charles Dickens and even Queen Victoria. Witty wordplay and detailed pencil drawings abound. Glos.


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