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The Great Cheese Conspiracy Paperback – June, 1989

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JEAN VAN LEEUWEN is the acclaimed author of more than forty books for young readers, including picture books, easy readers, historical fiction, and young adult novels. www.jeanvanleeuwen.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin School (June 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395544963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395544969
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #625,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By delicateflower152 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jean Van Leeuwen's "The Great Cheese Conspiracy" involves a gang of three mice, occupants of a movie theater. Their leader "Merciless Marvin" cases locations on "The Outside" before settling on the nearby cheese shop as the target of their proposed burglary. The balance of this cute children's novel - that will amuse adults, as well - involves the gang's planning and execution of the crime. Some readers may see elements of the Three Stooges or Alvin and the Chipmunks in the trio's antics. I did not find the characters as engaging or well defined as those personalities.

With a nod to the gangster movies of the past century, elements of "The Great Cheese Conspiracy" are unlikely to be familiar to children of the current generation. They may have little understanding of the type of criminal gangs portrayed in this book. Further, while their crime is nonviolent and, in the end, although the Enemy, Mr. Sammartino forgives Merciless Marvin and his cohorts, Fats and Raymond, the book does make it seem as if theft and deception are acceptable. The would-be criminals reap the benefit of manipulating their victim's sympathetic nature to gain a comfortable home and plentiful food - no work required. "Merciless Marvin" eventually determines he is not cut out for a life outside crime and returns "Outside" to seek other opportunities.

Jean Van Leeuwen's writing is clear and easy to read. Younger readers should have little trouble reading and understanding the short chapters. This would be a nice read aloud book for preschoolers and a good vehicle for discussions regarding right and wrong. I recommend parents read "The Great Cheese Conspiracy" before reading it to preschoolers or giving it to young readers in order to determine whether the subject material is compatible with their own values.
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Format: Paperback
Even though the story is written as a children's novel, readers of any age will find plenty to love with the three main characters. In the vein of such enjoyable trios as the Three Stooges and Alvin and the Chipmunks, the mice heros (or hoodlums) of this story each flash their personalities in conversation and proceed through the adventurous plotline with their own specific style. The writing is smooth, the moused-sized inventions humorous and the story fluid enough that you might just have to sit down and read it all at once. But don't worry about the time. It is, after all, just a children's book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I was in the second grade, our teacher read us several chapter books over the course of that year. The only ones that I remember are The Great Cheese Conspiracy and its sequel, The Great Christmas Kidnapping Caper. The first one here being told like a noir crime story was something new to me at the time, and when we finished the book, watching the crudely animated adaptation made it stay in my head for years to come. What's funny is that just a few weeks ago I was thinking back to all the books we read in elementary school like Where the Red Fern Grows, A Wrinkle in Time, Hank the Cowdog, etc. and then here The Great Cheese Conspiracy shows up. Naturally, I went for it, and I read it to my daughter, who's almost done with first grade. She was interested, and it's an easy book for her to read too. I read it by myself too, just to relive everything, and you know what? The book still holds up. It's not a 'greatest book' contender by any means, but it's memorable.

Marvin and his gang (just two other mice- Fats and Raymond) are ready for The Big Time. No more petty jobs of stealing candy from the movie theater they live in. It's time to move on to something big. What could be big for mice? Well, how about a giant cheese store that's just a short walk from the theater? Marvin scopes the place out and determines that he and his men can perform the biggest heist in history. Luckily for him, Raymond mentions that they could infiltrate the premises and make as many trips as they want to the store, rather than making one big bust. Unfortunately, the store doesn't have any weak points, and they need the key in order to get in after everyone's gone. Even worse, the shop has security in the form of a mean, old, moth-eaten cat.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I actually liked this story of The Great Cheese Conspiracy quite a bit. I can easily see teachers using it as a classroom read aloud and was even thinking that it didn't seem all that dated. I mean there were a couple of references to a fur piece that kids might find puzzling, and you don't find shops very often that just sell cheese. Otherwise, what's not to love about a group of mice that live in a movie theatre? Chewing their way through popcorn boxes and candy bars, these mice are delightful characters that provide quite a bit of humor.

It was only after thinking about the story for a bit that I realized that the whole concept of "gangsters" might feel a bit foreign to most young readers. Gangster movies are mostly a thing of the past, so I think quite a bit of the charm of this book will likely be lost on young readers. Still, this is a very good little caper story, and maybe those kiddos familiar with that gang from Toy Story can draw a few parallels with our daring mice and their quest for the good life. Marvin's decision at the end to leave easy street for a chance at a life of crime and adventure might raise a few eyebrows, but most will be charmed by Raymond, the super intelligent sidekick, Fats the fuse who loves to eat and blow things up, and Marvin the magnificent who is maybe not as smart as he thinks he is. As a grown up, I can only offer a cautious recommend for this classic, but the kid in me thought it was great fun.
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