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The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale

by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-A cagey cat with a penchant for cheese pretends to be a mouser at an inn overrun by rodents and frequented by a famous author with writer's block. Rich in lofty language and vivid characterization, and artfully embellished by Moser's expressive illustrations, this laugh-out-loud tale is one to savor. (Sept.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly "He was the best of toms. He was the worst of toms." So opens Deedy (14 Cows for America) and Wright's (The Silver Penny) spry hybrid of historical fiction and animal story, set at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a real-life pub "famed as a haunt for London writers." The line refers to Skilley, the mouser at the tavern, where Charles Dickens is struggling to find a lead-in to his new novel. Snippets from Dickens's journal reveal his suspicions that something's askew between Skilley and the pub's substantial mice population. He's right: Skilley, who prefers eating cheese to mice, has agreed not to harm them if they bring him cheese from the storeroom. Pip, an intellectually minded mouse, teaches himself to write using his tail, a skill that comes in handy at multiple points during the novel. Moser's graphite illustrations are realistic and wonderfully emotive, especially in combination with the novel's fresh dialogue, typographical flights of fancy, and wordplay. Expertly realized characters and effervescent storytelling make this story of unlikely friendship, royal ravens, and "the finest cheese in London" a delight. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-The vagaries of tavern life in 19th-century London come alive in this delightful tale. Skilley, a street cat with a secret (he eats cheese!), finds a home at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, where he pretends to be a mouser and gets the attention of Charles Dickens, a frequent customer. Befriended by Pip, a precocious mouse who can read and write, Skilley tries to protect his rodent pals and Maldwyn, an injured royal raven hiding in the garret, from Pinch, a ginger alley cat who's out for every tasty morsel he can get. There are cat-and-mouse battles aplenty. Several subplots are happily resolved: the cook reveals that the mice are her official cheese-tasters; Queen Victoria herself comes to rescue Maldwyn; Mr. Dickens finally finds an opening sentence for his new novel, and more. The fast-moving plot is a masterwork of intricate detail that will keep readers enthralled, and the characters are well-rounded and believable. Language is a highlight of the novel; words both elegant and colorful fill the pages: "alacrity," "scrivener," "thieving moggy." And then there are the Dickensian references: "artful dodging of Hansom cabs," Dickens saying he has "great expectations." His amusing diary entries, revealing both his writing difficulties and his thoughts about Skilley, and the occasionally fanciful page layouts add to the humor. Combined with Moser's precise pencil sketches of personality-filled characters, the book is a success in every way. It should be a first purchase for libraries interested in bringing young readers to the marvels of Dickens via the back-or, should I say tavern-door.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Alley cat Skilley finagles his way off the tough streets of London and into a life as a mouser at a local inn where he strikes up an unlikely alliance with the resident mouse and befriends Dickens. A zany scheme and high jinks ensue. Dickensian references pepper this playful, clever tale illustrated with pencil drawings. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Cat and mouse may be traditional enemies, but in this appealing historical novel, a cheese-loving tom cat named Skilley takes up residence at London's Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, where he befriends Pip, one of the many mice living at the inn. With Pip's help, Skilley convinces the innkeeper that he's a fierce mouser, all the while secretly releasing his victims. The amiable Charles Dickens, a frequent customer attempting to write another novel, observes them with amusement. Meanwhile, one of the royal ravens from the Tower of London is hidden away in an upstairs room. The plot thickens when a wicked cat threatens Skilley, the mice, and the raven. With many likable characters, a couple of enjoyably despicable ones, and a lovingly depicted period setting, this eventful chapter book has plenty to offer young readers. Familiarity with Dickens' novels is not a prerequisite for enjoying the story but will add to the pleasure of those who recognize the references here and there. Moser's expressive pencil drawings capture the characters and the sometimes amusing, sometimes exciting tone of the story with finesse.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.