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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Real Charmer of a Book
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...
Published on November 22, 2011 by Maxine McLister

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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gift for Grandson who loves cats!
My grandson loves cats and mysteries, this seemed like a good combination. He has not read it yet as he just received it for Christmas.
Published 20 months ago by Vance Gilbert Fan


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Real Charmer of a Book, November 22, 2011
This review is from: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale (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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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best laid schemes . . ., October 4, 2011
This review is from: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale (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. For the cook it's a secret about the cheese, and for the barmaid the same. Only the famous writer Charles Dickens, a man that patronizes the inn, seems secret free. And yet, he too harbors a difficulty and a shame. It'll take Skilley's deal with Pip to set the spark that causes all these secrets to come to light, and it may possibly save the very monarchy of England as well!

As with any book starring the furry, it all comes down to personality. If you don't believe in the characters then you haven't anything to connect to. Here, the critters are infinitely interesting. Pip's oversized vocabulary makes for a nice side element in the tale. If Skilley comes off as a kind of hired muscle, Pip is the brains behind the operation. From his first utterance of words like "sepulcher" and "perpetual internment" you can see that he is a cut above the general mouse population. Interestingly, once Pip start throwing out one hundred dollar words, the book follows suit. I caught words and phrases like "stygian darkness" bandied about without comment. It doesn't grate, though, and such words and phrases are understandable within context. By the way, I just referred to Skilley as a kind of thug, but in fact there are depths to him. I was particularly fond of a moment when Pip mentions that his family died in a cleaver-related accident. Thinks the cat, "Cleavers, in his experience, rarely acted alone."

For the writing, you see, is quite good here. There are passages that lift it above the usual children's literary pack. At one point Skilley has treated Pip abominably and he is told to own up to it. "It is not enough to say you are sorry. You must utterly own the terrible thing you have done. You must cast no blame on the one you've injured. Rather, accept every molecule of the responsibility, even if reason and self-preservation scream against it. Then, and only then, will the words `I am sorry' have meaning." That's just a great passage (and not bad advice either).

And then we run into the inevitable question as to whether or not kids will get the Dickens references in this book. Will they understand that the great author himself is attempting to write the first sentence in A Tale of Two Cities? Will they appreciate that a cat with the personality of Bill Sykes is given the adorable name of Oliver by a deluded barmaid? Or that a delightful girl of questionable mortality goes by the name of Nell? Yeah, probably not. And you know what? Who cares? If the book's storyline hinged on the reader getting these little elements then it might matter. It would also, in such a case, be a useless book for children. Far better to slide the little references in here and there. If a parent or a teacher reading this book with a kid wants to tell them what book they come from, that's fantastic. But it's hardly required knowledge.

I don't know how to draw a mouse with an overbite. Do you? I don't. Seems to me that a character like Pip would take a delicate hand. So Barry Moser's work on this book is fantastic (as you would expect). It is also careful. He gives his animals a full range of personality and emotions without turning them into anthropomorphized cartoon characters. The mice look like mice, the cats cats, etc. His humans, for their part, are a perfect array of Dickensian character studies. They're a little more caricature-ish, but then so are the people who populate Dickens' books. Of these people, Moser's Nell is the most impressive. You look at her image and you instantly like her. You simply do. Somehow, the artist has managed to tap into something very real in this girl. You feel as though she's based on a real person. One that lives and breathes. There's just something about her.

I'm not sure how two authors go about collaborating on a book like this one. Deedy and Wright's co-authorship has to be shared with Barry Moser's fantastic images, though. Without these three working in tandem together the book would not be half as interesting as it is. This is a true collaboration. One that mixes history, animals, mystery, and literary references in abundance. Kids of all ages, genders, and stripes will take to the book. It also happens to make for a handsome readaloud. Recommend it to any child looking for just a good read. It is, precisely, that.

Ages 7-12.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Crafted And Easy To Love, October 28, 2011
This review is from: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale (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. As if reading his thoughts, she kicked the fish under her stall and cocked the broom for another swing. Fishwives. the curse of London cats. With a flick of his peculiar tail, Skilley turned his back to the woman, putting all the disdain he could muster into the sway of his hips."

Deedy and Wright have collaborated to create a wonderful story. A 2011 favorite that I believe is a serious contender for the Newbery.

Three Starred Reviews - Kirkus, School Library Journal and Publishers Weekly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Friendship and Loyalty, November 10, 2011
This review is from: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It was the best of books, it was...oh heck, it was the best of books., June 22, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale (Hardcover)
(Warning, possible spoiler alert)

When I first opened Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright’s “The Cheshire Cheese Cat,” I was, I have to admit, disappointed. I expected actual cheese. But once I became acquainted with Skilley, the brave feline protagonist, and Pip, his tiny murine accomplice, I cheered them through plots so twisted it would take the Queen’s own seamstress to put them to rights. I was right on the seat of my tail every time cook showed up with her iron ladle, the skulking alley cat Pinch got his paws on a mouse, or the famous Dickens himself seemed about to undo Skilley’s house of cards, all for want of a piece of cheese. But no one in the Cheshire Cheese Pub was without secrets, and one after another, they all were revealed, with an ending so uproarious you wouldn’t have been surprised if the Queen Herself were to appear…
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, September 19, 2012
This review is from: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale (Hardcover)
I did not expect to like this book. One of the children brought it home from the library for family read alouds and... I put it at the bottom of the pile. And then I had to renew it, because we did not even get to it in the first three weeks.

But then, Mr. Persistence insisted.

So I grudgingly brought it out and reluctantly gave it a shot at mealtime one morning.

And... we loved it. Not just them. Me. I loved it. I love it.

I love the vocabulary and the relationships. I love the secrets, the mysteries, the plot twists. I love the wholesome morals. I love the characters. I love the cameo appearances by Dickens and other British writers.

This is the ANTIDOTE to "Desperaux."

p.s. After we read it as a family, Mr. Persistence has read it to himself 3+ times. I guess I'll renew it again from the library. This is a good book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book on many levels., April 14, 2012
This review is from: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale (Hardcover)
I agree with E.R. Bird on this one - I am not a big fan of animal books, especially when the animals talk to each other, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Sometimes I wonder why books gets starred reviews from "the professionals," but Cheshire Cheese Cat is a winner. It's a great story about friendship, admitting your faults, and helping others. It adds historical elements. All the characters are quirky and memorable (in a good way, not in a creepy way).

I picked up the uncorrected proof at Book Expo last year, and it was sitting in the pile because I could not imagine enjoying it as much as I did. I loved Barry Moser's illustrations, and I am sorry I did not read it immediately so mine could be one of the first recommendations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun story, February 6, 2012
By 
carol e hughes (Greenville, mississippi United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale (Hardcover)
I love how the story was woven with real people. The place is real. The time is real. Great story about being brave and being your best self. I couldn't read the last few chapters fast enough. Great story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great play on life between cats, mice and men., January 28, 2012
This review is from: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I had a hard time NOT sharing this book until summer when the Summer Book Club for Middle Grade fiction kicks off. Obviously I didn't win! LOL

The Cheshire Cheese Cat is a very unique and creative book with many endearing characters and much action. Skilley the cat finds himself a "job" at the Old Cheshire Cheese Inn and manages to avoid spilling his secret (he doesn't EAT mice) and (loves cheese) by pretending to catch the same mouse over and over again and only old Mr Dickens figures him out. When Skilley's nemesis is brought in the action takes off and secrets start spilling throughout the entire place!

Carmen & Randall make a great team - the writing is smooth and several of the pages have the words typed in a pattern - they might be swirling, going up 'stairs' and dead ending, going down 'stairs' and sometimes tumbling into dining rooms! The pages are illustrated in pencil drawings and are very detailed and interesting and the characters of the book are vividly brought to life.

Be sure to check out The Cheshire Cheese Cat website for teaching activities, examples of the illustrations in the book, information about Victorian England, the Tower of England & the Ravens and Charles Dickens - a regular customer at The Cheshire Cheese Inn. Click to go to the website: [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We loved this book!, January 24, 2012
This review is from: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale (Hardcover)
Our kids are 11 and 7. The family found this fun to read aloud, including the Dickens glossary that's included.
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The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale
The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Randall Wright (Hardcover - October 1, 2011)
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