I am very pleased to have the opportunity to share a book with you that is slated to be released in October. This is somewhat unusual for me, since I’m usually behind the curve instead of ahead of it when it comes to reading. However, when we saw Carmen Agra Deedy at our local storytelling festival back in May, she mentioned that after many years of writing, hoping, and waiting, she finally has a chapter book in the works. Of course, when we ran into her, I mentioned that I love middle grade novels and that I also (ahem) happen to have a book review blog, so she offered to send me an ARC of the book she co-wrote with Randall Wright so that I can share my honest opinion of her book here, should I so choose. Well, I am happy to report that my own mild obsession with the author notwithstanding, I love this story, and I think you will, too.
The Cheshire Cheese Cat is first of all a story of the unlikely friendship between a cat named Skilley and a mouse named Pip. Skilley comes to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub (which is a real place!) seeking work as a mouser, but he has a big secret. Well, it turns out that the pub is just full of secrets, the biggest of which the resident mice are keeping (both literally and figuratively). This story is full of adventure and mystery, with villains (both human and people) thrown into the mix. However, the part of this story I love the most shows up in the subtitle: The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale. Yes, Charles Dickens was a patron of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub, and he is a character in this book! Deedy and Wright fit little sideways references to Dickens in funny and startling places (like, for example, the name of the mouse I mentioned earlier. Can you name the book in which Pip is a character?) In short, this is a delightful book that would make a really fun read-aloud, and it’s all the better for the older readers (even adults!) who know a little about Dickens.
Another delightful part of this middle-grade novel are the illustrations, which are drawn by Barry Moser. Although the illustrations are sparsely scattered throughout the story, each one fits the timing and cadence of the tale. This pairing of authors with illustrator was perfect!
I give this one a Highly Recommended, and I’m eager to see how the bookish world receives it once it comes out in October. Stay tuned!