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The Great Cheese Conspiracy Paperback – June 1, 1989


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100%20Children%27s%20Books%20to%20Read%20in%20a%20Lifetime

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin School (June 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395459923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395544969
  • ASIN: 0395544963
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jean Van Leeuwen lives in Chappaqua, New York. She is the award-winning author of more than 50 children’s books including the popular Easy-to-Read series about Oliver and Amanda Pig.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Jean Van Leeuwen is the author of more than fifty children's books, including picture books, Easy-to-Read books, and middle-grade fiction. She has won numerous awards, among them the William Allen White Award, the South Carolina Children's Book Award, the Massachusetts Honor Book Award, and the Washington Irving Children's Choice Award, as well as many ALA Notable Book citations. Her popular Oliver and Amanda Pig Easy-to-Read series was called "timeless as the truths of childhood" by the New York Times. Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day was a 2006 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book.

Her own two children were the inspiration for the Oliver and Amanda Pig stories, as well as several others, including Dear Mom, You're Ruining My Life. Many of her other books have grown out of her long-time interest in American history. Her historical picture books include Going West, which was cited as an IRA Teachers' Choice and Across the Wide Dark Sea, selected by the New York Public Library as one of the "100 Titles for Reading and Sharing." She has written historical fiction for older readers as well. Her Bound for Oregon was a Child Study Association Book of the Year, and Cabin on Trouble Creek was nominated for children's Choice awards in eight states.

Ms. Van Leeuwen grew up in the small town of Rutherford, New Jersey. She was an avid reader as a child, reading every book she could get her hands on, from Nancy Drew to The Wind in the Willows. At one point, while trying to convince her parents to buy her a dog, she read nothing but dog stories for a whole year. (She got the dog, but when she moved on to horses, her parents refused to cooperate.) Eventually she began writing her own stories, which she illustrated with cut-outs from magazines.

After graduating from Syracuse University, where she majored in journalism, Ms. Van Leeuwen found a job in the children's book department of a New York City publisher. She remained a children's book editor for many years, an experience with inspired her to once again start writing her own stories. Her first book, Timothy's Flower, was published in 1967, and she has been writing and publishing ever since.

Ms. Van Leeuwen now lives in another small town north of New York City with her husband, Bruce Gavril. She has two grown children, David and Elizabeth, and a young grandchild, who will surely inspire more stories.

Visit Ms. Van Leeuwen's website at www.jeanvanleeuwen.com

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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A very fun clean read that my kids loved.
James A. Nichols
The writings of Jean Van Leeuwen are enjoyable and easy to read.
Darena Shopz
These are great lessons for kids to learn.
Just Trying to Help

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rory Sweeney on July 12, 2000
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 2, 1998
Format: Library Binding
This was the first book I read over 20 years ago, and I never forgot it. That is how much I enjoyed it, I would definitly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1998
Format: Library Binding
My mom used to read this book to me, and I loved it. She is a teacher (6th grade) and also works with a daycare (K-5th grades). She has read this book to many classes of children over the years, and it is consistently enjoyed.
The book is full of humor, and is very easy to imagine happening in your mind. That's what makes it so great. Plus it's good quality reading--and very appropriate for children.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Prather TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 13, 2014
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lizz A. Belle VINE VOICE on March 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My first issue with this book is that it is a publisher's classic, meaning it was originally published in 1969 and is being rereleased because of its relevance and great plot to today's readers. I firmly disagree.

The story is about a gang of mice who live in a "movie house" (to me three is not really a gang but that is my opinion) lead by Marvin the Merciless. He thinks himself a big crime boss on par with some of the movie greats he has seen, specifically Humphrey Bogart. I ask you, since this is for 6 to 9 year olds, how many children know who Bogey is? Really? And the movie references the gang makes are all movies from the 50s and 60s, which I doubt many 6 year olds have seen, let alone care about. Anyway, Marvin gets this wild hair that the gang needs to commit "the crime of the century", in this case, stealing from a nearby cheese shop.

Normally a great story like this would go into intricate planning and much revelry about this great crime but this book clocks in at 88 pages and most of that stuff is left out. The gang tries and fails several times. I won't give away the ending lest someone actually read this book but needless to say I found it simplistic and rather unsatisfying. You don't get into great depth of the characters to really like them or not. However, this is the fifth book about this trio and little from this story makes me want to seek out the others.

While I appreciate this was likely a great book in 1969 when things were different and we had movie mobster greats like Bogey instead of Pacino or De Niro, there are much better stories about mice out there that actually have a complex plot line with great and entertaining characters, starting with Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and the more recent gem Malcolm at Midnight by WH Beck.
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