The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tail
Cheshire Cheese Cat
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Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright, illus. by Barry Moser
ISBN 9781561455959
Peachtree, 2011.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: adventure animals carmen-agra-deedy-and-randall-wright charles-dickens cheshire-cheese-a-dickens-a-tail friendship london queen-victoria

The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tail
by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright, illus. by Barry Moser

"He was the best of toms. He was the worst of toms," begins this gentle and clever story of unlikely friendship between a cat, a mouse, a raven and an esteemed Victorian novelist.

Skilley is a street cat with a kind heart--and a secret. After Pinch ("cold-blooded and volatile... not a cat to be trifled with") tells Skilley that the innkeeper at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese seeks a mouser, Skilley begins angling for the position. But not for the reasons one might think. It's not mice he seeks, but cheese. Pip, the inn's chief mouse, and Skilley strike a deal--the cat will keep the mice safe if they will supply him with Cheshire cheese. Skilley is not the only one with something to hide: "This inn has more secrets than mice." Pip can read and write, for one. For another, there's a raven they keep hidden in the attic who claims to be the property of Queen Victoria. Charles Dickens, a frequent diner at the inn, is onto them all. If only he could come up with an opening line for his new novel.

This is a great rollicking adventure, as natural-born enemies play against type, and everyone's secrets eventually come to light. Children will lap up this tale of friendship and adventure, and adults will be entertained by the plentiful allusions to Dickens and his characters. Barry Moser's charming illustrations of the main characters combined with the commanding storytelling voice  make this a charming read-aloud for the entire family.

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

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