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The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale Hardcover – October 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Texas Bluebonnet Master List 2012-2013
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers; 1 edition (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561455954
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561455959
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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. Grades 4-6. --Carolyn Phelan

Review

STARRED REVIEW "He was the best of toms. He was the worst of toms." So opens Deedy (14 Cows for America) and Wright's (The SilverPenny) 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.) --Publishers Weekly

STARRED REVIEW
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 --School Library Journal

STARRED REVIEW He was the best of toms. He was the worst of toms. And for all his harsh early life and unnatural dietary preferences, ragged London alley cat Skilley gets to look at a queen, too.
Landing a gig as mouser for the chophouse and writers hangout Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a lifelong fantasy come true for both Skilley and the inn s swarm of resident mice because unlike his feline rivals, Skilley adores cheese and has no taste for mice at all. In fact it isn t long before he and Pip, a mouse of parts who has learned to read and write, have become great friends. Deedy and Wright take this premise and run with it, tucking in appearances from Dickens, Thackeray and other writers of the time. Cat and mice unite to face such challenges as the arrival of a cruel new cat named Oliver ( Well, this was an unwelcome twist ), a mysterious cheese thief and, climactically, a wise but injured old raven that is the subject of a country-wide search that culminates in a visit to the inn by Queen Victoria Herself. Moser contributes splendid black-and-white illustrations that manage to be both realistic and funny, recalling Robert Lawson while retaining his own style.
Readers with great expectations will find them fully satisfied by this tongue-in-cheek romp through a historic public House that is the very opposite of Bleak. (Animal fantasy. 10-12) --Kirkus

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Along with the short chapters make this a great choice for a read aloud.
DAC
The pages are illustrated in pencil drawings and are very detailed and interesting and the characters of the book are vividly brought to life.
Tina Peterson
Well he convinced the Innkeeper that this was THE MOUSER for the Cheshire Cheese Inn.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Maxine McLister on November 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Cheshire Cheese Inn makes the best cheese in all of Victorian England. As a result, it attracts some very prominent patrons including author Charles Dickens. It also attracts a huge number of mice. The Cheshire Cheese is badly in need of a cat.

As luck would have it, Skilley, an alley cat with a shameful secret, is badly in need of a home. So when he learns that the Inn is looking for a mouser, he quickly offers his services.

This charmer of a story is aimed at middle graders but it is definitely one which will appeal to all ages. It is a wonderful tale full of memorable and quirky characters who will stay with you long after you close the covers. And the marvelous black and white illustrations which pepper the pages add to its appeal.

Although it is not a Christmas tale, it is so full of good cheer (but not in a schmaltzy way) that it would make the perfect gift for your little reader. Before you wrap it though, you really should read it yourself. However, I recommend that you wait until the kids are asleep all snug in their beds because, once you begin this book, I guarantee you won't want to put it down.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Animal stories. Done well and you get something like Charlotte's Web or The Incredible Journey. Done poorly and you cannot name for me a more annoying genre. Some days it seems to me that every great children's author eventually tries their hand at the style to varying degrees of success. Burned one time too many I've taken to just avoiding books with animals in them altogether unless there's something that seems to be extraordinary about them. So when The Cheshire Cheese Cat came into my possession, I was inclined to put it aside. Then a friend and an editor both assured me it was lovely. And then there was the fact that Carman Agra Deedy, author of such great picture books as 14 Cows for America had co-authored it. Finally, it's not every day that the great Barry Moser illustrates a new work of middle grade fiction. Add in the fact that there's a Charles Dickens connection and I cracked. I read it. And reader, it was worth the reading. Not that it convinced me to rethink my animals-in-books opinions, but at least I may be a hair more open minded in the future . . . maybe.

The Cheshire Cheese Inn is a place of secrets. It seems that anyone who works or lives there has one. For Skilley the alleycat, his is a shame that has caused him to strike up a deal with the local mouse population that haunt the inn's famous cheese production room. For Pip, his mouse friend, it has to do with the mysterious creature that lives amongst the mice, insisting on its own freedom.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DAC VINE VOICE on October 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wright drawings by Barry Moser
Stories will talking animals are hit or miss for me (usually miss) I can't articulate why only a few work for me or what it is I like but I know it when I see it. Like Underneath by Appelt or Whittington by Armstrong this hits the mark.

The Cheshire Cheese Cat is co-author Deedy's first early reader and an excellent one at that. The story is a fun hat tip to Charles Dickens featuring a cat named Skilley with a secret. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is an inn known for having the best cheese in London. They also have a mouse problem. Skilley the only street cat that doesn't have a taste for mice bought into to Ye Olde to kept the population down. This is perfect for Pip, the mouse in charge. Pip and Skilley make an arrangement so everyone is happy. Everything is going well until Pinch a very vicious cat is hired. Pip and Skilley have to be extra careful that their secret isn't discovered.

When I started reading this I couldn't put it down. It's one of those books that makes me wish I had a fireplace to read by. Moser's illustrations which are sprinkled throughout are lovely. Along with the short chapters make this a great choice for a read aloud. There's another layer to this story involving a Raven that makes it that much more intigruing. The Cheshire Cheese Cat has everything, adventure, unlikely friendship, danger. and beautiful language.

"Scat, cat!" A broom came down hard out of London's cold and fog. Startled, Skilley leapt sideways and the broom whiffled empty air. The cat however, refused to scat. He eyed the dead fish then the broom, calculating the distance between the two. "Off now, you thieving moggy," the fishmonger shrilled.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lisa F. on November 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Set in Victorian England this is a fun book portraying the unlikely friendship between a cat and a mouse.

Skilley is a street cat who find out about the mice infestation in a shop that sells cheese and figures out a way to be the cat to take care of the problem. He meets a mouse named Pip and they find a way to cooperate and both of them are able to meet their unique needs. Their biggest dilemma is how to help the raven, Maldwyn find his way back to the tower of London. In the mean time they have to stay out of the way of the very evil cat named Pinch.

This book is story of friendship, loyalty, and forgiveness. I loved the mouse society. Many unique mice live in the Inn, of course, where else would they be when there is the worlds best cheese? We can't forget Charles Dickens role in the story as he struggles to overcome writers block while studying these remarkable animals.

I really enjoyed this book and know that middle grade readers will enjoy it as well.

I received a review copy from Netgalley.
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