Of Mice and Cats

Fredle is a young mouse, full of curiosity and ready for adventure. After eating too much Peppermint Patty in Cynthia Voigt’s Young Fredle, he is forced out of the family nest. Taking care of the sick is not part of the house mouse code. What follows is a grand adventure, taking Fredle to the world of field mice, raccoons, barn cats and snakes. Much to his delight, Fredle discovers stars, flowers and the moon, all unknown to other house mice.

Tackling the huge issues of home and security, friendship and family, life and death, might seem too much for a young mouse, but Voigt’s book is a wonderful exploration of all of those things.

The audio book, read by Wendy Carter, proves that this would be a terrific read-aloud. It is a 2012 Honor winner for the Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production.

How can you resist a book that begins “He was the best of toms. He was the worst of toms”? There is no good reason to do so. The word play and language is wonderful, smart and silly in The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright. It is also a story full of action and mystery.

Skilley is an alley cat with a secret. After hatching a plan to install himself as the mouser at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a London inn, life is good. An encounter with a mouse named Pip, who guesses his secret, threatens that stability. A pact is made between cat and mouse and, again, everything is good. The arrival of a second mouser, a bully of a cat known as Pinch, brings danger to all the (animal) inhabitants of the inn.

There is a mysterious guest in the attic, cheese in a locked room that is disappearing, and a visit from Queen Victoria herself. Mr. Dickens, a frequent visitor, is an observer of life at the inn. As he struggles to write A Tale of Two Cities, he is inspired by what he sees. References to the works of Dickens and the appearance of several fellow writers adds to the wide appeal of this book. Adults wishing to share a novel with the children they love would find much to entertain them here, as well.

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