the low down on new books

The Cheshire Cheese Cat

Reviewed by Nick

Just the Facts: The Cheshire Cheese Cat by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright. Barry Moser, illustrator. pp. 1-37 excerpt. To be published on Oct. 1, 2011. Peachtree Publishers; Atlanta. Accessed through http://www.netgalley.com.

Verdict: ★★★☆☆

Who cares? : Children’s Literature/Elementary Chapterbook

Not so short bio:

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub has unarguably the best cheese in England. Perhaps that’s why it is such a popular hang out for writers and poets. It’s definitely the reason that so many mice have inhabited the attic. And no wonder the owner is looking for a new mouser!

Skilley is a tom cat living in the streets of London–but he’s no ordinary cat. Skilley has a secret that would make him the laughing stock of cats and mice alike. When Skilley hears that the Cheshire Cheese Pub in London is looking for a mouser, he quickly formulates a plan to get hired for the position.

Pip, a mouse that lives among the mouse colony within the Cheshire Cheese, hears the pub owner, Henry, talking about getting a cat. Pip understands human language because he learned it from his rescuer Nell, the pub owner’s daughter.  He quickly decides to convene the mouse council to find the wisest course of action, but on the way foolishly gets caught by the would-be mouser! Pip is scared for his life, but starting to get annoyed as the cat prolongs the inevitable, or what Pip thinks is the inevitable. Once in private, Pip finds out Skilley’s secret. Skilley does not like to eat mice! More surprisingly, Skilley loves CHEESE! and that’s why he has come to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Pip thinks quick on his feet and makes a deal with Skilley that they will provide him with the hard-to-obtain Cheshire Cheese if he will protect the mice from any true mouser.

Will Pip succeed in persuading the mice, especially Maldwyn, a victim of a cat mauling, that the new mouser is harmless? Is Skilley indeed harmless? Will Skilley’s rival Pinch let Skilley take the post of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese mouser so easily? What secrets is Maldwyn hiding? Will Skilley be able to make it “look” like he is a mouser while really eating the pubs cheese? Can Skilley trust the mice? Can the mice trust Skilley? And most importantly, will Charles find the perfect beginning to his book?

Eyewitness Account:

Deedy and Wright have composed a charming tale of a cat and mouse. But this tale is not the orthodox relationship that you’d expect from such eternal foes. The authors have an original plot scheme for their story and yet they have intertwined beloved traditional elements such as the writings of Charles Dickens and his character itself in the storyline. Even the setting of London and an old fashioned pub nicely offset the untraditional concept of a cheese-eating cat.

The first chapter is a little choppy, but after that the story takes off fluidly. I commend the authors for attempting to be artistic with the script at certain points in the book, but I think it is too distracting at times. Not exactly sure the intended age range, but in some places wording is unnecessarily dense.  The characters have great potential and so does the plot, but since it is only an excerpt, my rating for this book will be less than I would have liked.

 

Rating:

★★★☆☆ Plot Development

★★★☆☆ Characterization

★★★☆☆ Writing Style

★★★★★ Original Idea

★★★☆☆ Page Turner

Overall ★★★☆☆

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