Friday, December 16, 2011

The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright

Skilley, the cat, has a secret. He hates to eat mice and loves cheese. He finds the perfect job at the Ye Olde Chesire Cheese Inn which makes the best cheese in the county. He makes a pact with the mice at the Inn where he pretends to kill them in exchange for them giving him cheese. Charles Dickens, the writer, goes to the Inn as well and is trying to write his novel, A Tale of Two Cities. He’s having a dickens of a time. When the barmaid brings home a vicious tomcat, who truly eats mice, and has a history of being Skilley’s enemy, things become complicated. Add to Skilley’s tangled mess a ghost in the Inn, cheese disappearing, and a raven who was injured by the tomcat and is owned by Queen Victoria, and you have a mystery that needs solving. Dickens helps in that department and also saves one mouse from the fate of being eaten. Grateful, the mice help him write the first line to his novel: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The writing is terrific in this book and while kids aren’t going to get all of the references to Dickens works and characters, they will enjoy the story in itself (while the adults laugh). There is a fun twist at the end regarding the missing cheese. The characters in this book remind me of some of the Victorian characters in Dickens novel – especially the cook or the poor boy who first found Skilley. The theme of friendship and what happens when feelings are hurt is explored. A poignant part of the story is when Skilley has to apologize to his friend and he must do it in a heartfelt way. The chapters are short and it is a quick read. This would be a fun read aloud. Read it with great expectations.

Reading Level 5.2
:-):-):-) 3.75 out 5 Smileys

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