Readers with great expectations will find them fully satisfied by this tongue-in-cheek romp through a historic public House...

THE CHESHIRE CHEESE CAT

A DICKENS OF A TALE

“He was the best of toms. He was the worst of toms.” And for all his harsh early life and unnatural dietary preferences, ragged London alley cat Skilley gets to look at a queen, too.

Landing a gig as mouser for the chophouse and writers’ hangout Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a lifelong fantasy come true for both Skilley and the inn’s swarm of resident mice—because unlike his feline rivals, Skilley adores cheese and has no taste for mice at all. In fact it isn’t long before he and Pip, a mouse of parts who has learned to read and write, have become great friends. Deedy and Wright take this premise and run with it, tucking in appearances from Dickens, Thackeray and other writers of the time. Cat and mice unite to face such challenges as the arrival of a cruel new cat named Oliver (“Well, this was an unwelcome twist”), a mysterious cheese thief and, climactically, a wise but injured old raven that is the subject of a country-wide search that culminates in a visit to the inn by Queen Victoria Herself. Moser contributes splendid black-and-white illustrations that manage to be both realistic and funny, recalling Robert Lawson while retaining his own style.

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. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56145-595-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A charming series opener.

DELPHINE AND THE SILVER NEEDLE

From the Magic in the Walls series , Vol. 1

A foundling mouse sets out to uncover the mystery of her origins and of the magical needle sized for humans that was left with her.

Delphine’s travels begin with a summons to the palace, where her growing reputation as a brilliant seamstress commands an order for a ball gown for Princess Petits-Oiseaux—and also gives her a chance to discover exciting hints about a vanished order of needle-wielding magic mice known as the Threaded and of an ancient war with the rats. Meanwhile, no sooner does Midnight, cruel king of the rats, learn that the needle they have been seeking for a century has been found than said old war suddenly heats up and turns into a deadly chase. Also meanwhile, only barely noticed by the animal cast but sure to snag readers’ attention, certain events involving another seamstress, a pumpkin coach, a ball, a prince, and a glass slipper are happening above the floorboards in the parallel human world. That isn’t the only sly touch in this bibbidi bobbidi debut, which is rich in clearly delineated character types, features plenty of brisk action, and is also, overall, more than a bit reminiscent in tone and setting to Brian Jacques’ Redwall series (though with more focus on fashion than food). While this volume is mostly setup, heroes and villains alike end up on their marks, and plenty of loose ends remain to stitch up later.

A charming series opener. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-04802-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A sure draw for the Kung-Fu Panda crowd, high on body count but low on gory details, it doesn't take itself too seriously...

THE BATTLE OF RIPTIDE

From the Shark Wars series , Vol. 2

Toothy rivals introduced in the opener, Shark Wars (2011), unite in the sequel to battle an army of shark invaders from the far end of the Big Blue.

Having learned that he’s not fat (or “big-cartilaged,” as he prefers to put it) but a supersized prehistoric Megalodon, young Gray is propelled into playing a leading role in repelling a disciplined force of shark troops from Indi, led by King Finnivus, a spoiled and vicious brat with visions of world conquest. Fortunately, Gray is being tutored in martial “Shar-kata” by Takiza, an ancient and bad-tempered betta (Siamese fighting fish). He also finds common purpose with other “shivers” (the basic shark communal unit—though more open-minded shivers admit other species too) and discovers unexpected allies who arrive (thanks to Takiza’s ability to span entire oceans with magical speed) in the nick of time to turn the tide of the climactic battle. When Gray cries, or pants with exhaustion, the overall anthropomorphic conceit wears thin, but Altbacker expends some effort concocting his undersea setting and fills out the finny cast with familiar martial-arts–style character types.

A sure draw for the Kung-Fu Panda crowd, high on body count but low on gory details, it doesn't take itself too seriously and is fully sequel-enabled. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59514-377-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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