Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale

The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale

Carmen Agra Deedy, Randall Wright
For ages 9 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Katherine Kellgren
Listening Library , 2012   ISBN: 978-0449010266

Skilley is an alley cat who lives in London and who has a secret that he has never shared with anyone. He knows that his reputation will be in tatters if any of the other alley cats find out what his secret is.

Tired of life on the streets, Skilley decides to try his luck at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, an inn where the best cheese in London is sold. Not surprisingly, the inn has a dire mouse problem, and Skilley is sure that the innkeeper will be glad to have a good mouser on the premises.

Sure enough, the innkeeper is delighted to have Skilley living at the inn, and the barmaid is even happier because she has a mortal fear of mice. What neither of these people know is that Skilley has no interest in catching and eating the mice, the reason being that he does not like to eat mice! Instead, Skilley likes to eat cheese.

Soon after arriving at the inn, Skilley makes friends with a very well educated mouse called Pip. The cat and the mouse put on a performance for the humans at the inn to give them the impression that Skilley is doing a great job catching mice. In return for his protection, the mice give Skilley some of the delectable Cheshire cheese that is sold at the inn. There is one person who visits the inn, Mr. Charles Dickens, who begins to realize that all is not what it seems, but he is having trouble with his new book so he does not bother investigating.

Skilley’s arrangement with the inn mice goes very well until the barmaid brings another cat to live at the inn to help with the mouse problem. Pinch is an evil tomcat who loves to dine on mice, and he is determined to eat every mouse in the inn. Skilley is justifiably frightened of Pinch, and he has no idea how he is going to protect the mice and his reputation at the same time.

In this clever novel, the authors tell the story of a relationship between a mouse and a cat, and at the same time they also tell the story of a writer who has writer ’s block, and a raven who needs to go home.

It is fascinating to see how Skilley comes to terms with his own identity, and how he struggles to do the right thing for himself and for those who depend on him. Listeners will be delighted to see how, in the end, the mouse, the cat, and their allies triumph in more ways than one.

Beautifully narrated by Katherine Kellgren, this is a story that will keep listeners captivated from the first chapter to the last.