Skilley is an alley cat that spends his days dodging brooms, trying to grab a morsel to eat. He has one secret desire: to live somewhere warm and safe, preferable in the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese he has heard so much about. This London public house makes the best cheese throughout Europe. It is also the home to hundreds, no thousands of cheese-loving mice. The unofficial leader of these mice is a small mouse named Pip. Pip keeps the mice safe, mainly from a mouse-hating barmaid. One day, Pinch shows up at the inn and is welcome, mostly by the mouse-hating barmaid. She wants Pinch to be the mouser she does not believe Skilley has ever been.
This one is the definition of a page-tuner. Skilley is a wonderful protagonist. He has a life-altering secret that, for a cat, is quite unbelievable. Pip, figures out Skilley’s secret and vows to keep it safely guarded. Only about half the thousands of mice at the inn ever find out, which I guess is good secret keeping for a mouse. Pip has a secret of his own, a few actually, and some of them surprise even himself. Once Pinch moves in the inn’s relative peace is disrupted. He causes havoc for everyone, except one daily customer who spends much of his time observing what happens at the inn. This calm in the storm is Charles Dickens, who is having a spat of writer’s block. He seems to understand both Skilley and the mice.
This is not your typical cat-and-mouse story. The dual worlds of the animals and humans seamlessly transitions back and forth. Kids of all ages, not just middle graders, will love this story. Most chapters are short, some only a single page. Even the single page chapters are a great read and rich in detail. Charles Dickens would have loved this story with its entertaining characters.
The illustrations are in black and white, mostly of the cast of characters. They are rich in detail and a joy to look at. The Cheshire Cheese Cat is a wonderfully written book for middle graders. It is an easy read, yet full of mystery and substance. Kids will not get overwhelmed reading several chapters in one sitting. Skilley and Pip’s secrets are intriguing and keep the reader guessing till the very end. The Cheshire Cheese Cat is one of the best books I have read this year and I highly recommend it. This would make a great Holiday gift for the readers on your list.
Authors: Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright Illustrator: Barry Moser Publisher: Peachtree Publishers Publication Date: October 2011 Nuber of Pages: 228 ISBN: 978-1-56145-595-9