Project Description

Discussion Guide

The Cheshire Cheese Cat

A Dickens of a Tale

by Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright
illustrated by Barry Moser

In this playful homage to Charles Dickens, Skilley, an alley cat with an embarrassing secret, longs to escape his street-cat life.

“Expertly realized characters and effervescent storytelling make this story of unlikely friendship, royal ravens, and ‘the finest cheese in London’ a delight.” ―Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“A success in every way.” ―School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Readers with great expectations will find them fully satisfied by this tongue-in-cheek romp through a historic public House.” ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Hoping to trade London’s damp alleyways for the warmth of ye olde Cheshire Cheese Inn, Skilley strikes a bargain with Pip, an erudite mouse. Skilley will protect the mice who live at the inn, and in turn, the mice will provide Skilley with the thing he desires most. But when Skilley and Pip are drawn into a crisis of monumental proportions, their new friendship is pushed to its limits. The escalating crisis threatens the peace not only of the Cheshire Cheese Inn but the entire British Monarchy!

New York Times best-selling author Carmen Agra Deedy and author Randall Wright collaborate on this compelling story set in Victorian England. With the artwork of award-winning illustrator Barry Moser, The Cheshire Cheese Cat is filled with charming characters and strong themes of friendship and loyalty.

Parents’ Choice Gold Award – Parents’ Choice Foundation

Best Children’s Books of the Year – Bank Street College of Education

Best Children’s Books of 2011 – Kirkus Reviews

Best Fiction Books of 2011 – School Library Journal

Format: Hardcover
Price: $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-595-9
Publication Date: 10/1/2011
Page Count: 256
Size: 6″ x 8″
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Price: $9.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-810-3
Publication Date: 9/1/2014
Page Count: 256
Size: 6″ x 8″
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English
Format: eBook
ISBN: 978-1-56145-846-2
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English

Purchase this eBook through the following vendors:

Barnes & Noble

AR Level: 5.1
F&P: GRL W, Gr 6, Genre F
Lexile: 740L
Themes: Charles Dickens, Friendship, Victorian London
BISAC 1: JUV002050 JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Cats
BISAC 2: JUV002180 JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Mice, Hamsters, Guinea Pigs, etc.
BISAC 3: JUV016040 JUVENILE FICTION / History / Europe


“The fast-moving plot is a masterwork of intricate detail that will keep readers enthralled, and the characters are well-rounded and believable. Language is a highlight of the novel; words both elegant and colorful fill the pages… Combined with Moser’s precise pencil sketches of personality-filled characters, the book is a success in every way. It should be a first purchase for libraries interested in bringing young readers to the marvels of Dickens via the back – or, should I say tavern – door.” ―School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Readers with great expectations will find them fully satisfied by this tongue-in-cheek romp through a historic public House that is the very opposite of Bleak.” ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Moser’s graphite illustrations are realistic and wonderfully emotive, especially in combination with the novel’s fresh dialogue, typographical flights of fancy, and wordplay. Expertly realized characters and effervescent storytelling make this story of unlikely friendship, royal ravens, and ‘the finest cheese in London’ a delight.” ―Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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“Whether you come to this book as an English major or as a cat lover, you will agree the first line of ‘The Cheshire Cheese Cat’ is pure genius…This joint effort from Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright, illustrated charmingly by Barry Moser, might be best appreciated as a read-aloud. It is sure to spark dialogue about loyalty and bullying…and Anglophiles young and old will appreciate the tale of Maldwyn, an injured raven hiding out at the Cheese and plotting his return to this rightful role guarding the Tower of London…” ―The New York Times

“Alley cat Skilley finagles his way off the tough streets of London and into a life as a mouser at a local inn where he strikes up an unlikely alliance with the resident mouse and befriends Dickens. A zany scheme and high jinks ensue. Dickensian references pepper this playful, clever tale illustrated with pencil drawings.” ―School Library Journal Online

“With many likable characters, a couple of enjoyably despicable ones, and a lovingly depicted period setting, this eventful chapter book has plenty to offer young readers…” ―Booklist Online

“This is a true collaboration. One that mixes history, animals, mystery, and literary references in abundance. Kids of all ages, genders, and stripes will take to the book. It also happens to make for a handsome read-aloud. Recommend it to any child looking for just a good read. It is, precisely, that.” ―A Fuse #8 Production

“Wonderfully entertaining for readers of all ages, with charming illustrations…The story is accessible without being condescending, and frequently uses phrases or words that are quite advanced…The Cheshire Cheese Cat blends history, mysteries, animals, and literary references together wonderfully, and I recommend this read to children of all ages, genders, and interests. It is simply a good read with a little something for everyone.” ―Associated Content

“Solid messages about friendship, loyalty, and being true to oneself are nevertheless effectively conveyed, and readers will likely enjoy the primary animal story, while historical fiction fans will appreciate the Victorian atmosphere. Moser’s softly shaded graphite illustrations, appearing in vignette spot art throughout, offer personable portraits, especially strong in their depictions of the animal characters.” ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“From the start ‘The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale’ borrows from Charles Dickens to pull young readers into a story about an unlikely friendship between a cat and a mouse who share the secrets of an English pub…Readers new to Dickens will enjoy the twists in this lively tale, while those who’ve read the writer’s works will enjoy its Dickensian setting and spirit.” ―The Chicago Sun-Times

“’The Cheshire Cheese Cat’ is a fun read at any age, but quite the pick for cat lovers with a crossover into historical fiction.” ―Midwest Book Review

“Parent lit geeks take note: In a different spin on the classics, The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale is a Dickensian labyrinth of a story following a cheese loving cat and his mouse friend Pip.” ―Parents’ Choice

“Any reader will devour this story of how an alley cat named Skilley moves into a popular London inn, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, and develops a highly unlikely friendship with a mouse name Pip…In short, punchy chapters, authors Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright tell a rollicking tale of friendship and skullduggery. Another bonus: Barry Moser’s expressive line drawings, which are scattered throughout the book.” ―Scripps News



Notable Children’s Books ―Association for Library Service to Children, 2012

Notable Children’s Recordings ―Association for Library Service to Children, 2013

E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor ―Association of Booksellers for Children, 2012

Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts ―Children’s Literature Assembly, 2012

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Parents’ Choice Gold AwardParents’ Choice Foundation, 2011

Best Children’s Books of the Year ―Bank Street College of Education, 2012

Best Children’s Books of 2011 ―Kirkus Reviews, 2011

Best Fiction Books of 2011 ―School Library Journal, 2011

Cybils (Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction) ―Cybils, 2011

Texas Bluebonnet Award (Master List) ―Texas Library Association, 2012-2013

Best of the Best in Children’s Literature ―Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, 2011

Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award ―Arkansas Department of Education, 2013-2014

Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List (Starred, Intermediate) ―Kansas National Education Association, 2012

Young Adult Top Forty ―Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, 2012

Delaware Diamonds (Nominee, Grades 3-5) ―Diamond State Reading Association, 2012-2013

Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award (Nominee) ―Vermont State PTA, Vermont Department of Libraries, 2012-2013

Flicker Tale Children’s Book Awards (Nominee, Juvenile Books) ―North Dakota Library Association, 2012-2013

Land of Enchantment Book Awards (Nominee, Children’s Books) ―New Mexico Library Association, New Mexico Council of IRA, 2013-2014

Nene Award (Nominee) ―Hawai’i Department of Education, Hawai’i State Public Library System, Hawai’i Association of School Librarians, 2014

Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards (Nominee, Grades 3-6) ―Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, 2012-2013

Prairie Pasque Children’s Book Award (Nominee) ―South Dakota Library Association, South Dakota Reading Council, South Dakota State Library, South Dakota Elementary School Principals, 2013-2014

Rhode Island Children’s Book Award (Nominee) ―Rhode Island IRA Chapter, RILA, REIMA, 2012-2013

Volunteer State Book Awards (Master List, Grades 3-5) ―Tennessee Association of School Librarians, 2013-2014

Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers ―VOYA, 2012

Georgia Children’s Book Award (Nominee) ―University of Georgia, 2014-2015


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Meet the Author

Author Carmen Agra Deedy

Carmen Agra Deedy, a New York Times bestselling author, has been writing and traveling around the world telling stories for more than twenty years. Her books have received numerous awards and honors. Carmen has performed in many prestigious venues, but children are her favorite audience. Born in Havana, Cuba, she came to the United States as a refugee and like most immigrants sees the world from multiple perspectives. She lives in Georgia. You can visit her website here.

Meet the Author

Randall Wright is the author of several novels for young readers, including a 2004 VOYA Top Shelf Award winner. He lives in Utah.

Meet the Illustrator

Barry Moser is one of today’s most celebrated illustrators of children’s books. He is also a printer, painter, printmaker, designer, author, essayist, and teacher. The books Moser has illustrated and/or designed form a list of over three hundred titles. He lives in Massachusetts. You can visit his website here.