Guest Post by Kristen Heimerl

Along with today’s review of Inspector Dewey, I’m delighted to offer a guest post from author Kristen Heimerl, on one of our mutually favorite subjects…cats!


Kristen HeimerlMy Book Project: Now This Is Joy–Cats by Kristen Heimerl

What could be more marvelous than a cat? I know dog lovers disagree, and I love a goofy pooch as much as anyone, but there’s just something about cats.

I’ve loved cats from the first time I discovered Fred, my aunt Diana’s big, red, crabby tabby. My sticky outstretched hands, tottering stride, and sound-barrier-shattering shrills of joy did not impress Fred. I didn’t care. It was love.

Cats are people. Really. Their personalities are as distinctive and developed as any human I know, and their social structure and norms are as sophisticated and, at times, as senseless as ours. Their “me in the middle” mindset is a match for any child’s and many adults’.

I am fascinated observing cats—not because I don’t understand them, but because I do. So when it came to writing a book, I couldn’t imagine writing about anything but my beloved furry housemates. I know . . . I know where you are going: “Here we go . . . another cat lady.” Judge away—I’m immune to your disdain! I surrender to the status. Proudly. Continue reading “Guest Post by Kristen Heimerl”

Book Review: Inspector Dewey

Inspector DeweyWhen I had the chance to get a copy of Inspector Dewey by Kristen Heimerl (illustrated by Irene Bofill), I definitely couldn’t pass it up—a story from a cat’s point of view! I love cats and, perhaps just as important, the most popular character I’ve written to date is talking cat Tom!  I’m always interested to meet other literary cats and see how other authors have portrayed our furry friends.

This is a charming picture book with gorgeous illustrations. Dewey narrates the tale, introducing his family (fellow cats Thumper and Lily, and human Anna), and describing the night when a thief came to the neighborhood.

I love Dewey’s voice. He’s exactly the self-assured, egotistical type of cat that I love reading abouy. Because all cats, of course, are deeply aware of their own importance!   Dewey is very sure that he saved the day when danger threatened, and I enjoy that self-confidence. Continue reading “Book Review: Inspector Dewey”

Book Review: Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse

As far as I know, my book today is pretty obscure–but you may have heard of its more famous literary sibling, The Cricket in Times Square.  George Selden wrote seven books about Chester Cricket and his friends, and Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse serves as a prequel to Cricket.

The book opens with a very young Tucker Mouse lost on the streets of New York–so young that he hasn’t even chosen a name for himself yet.  When he bumps into a tabby kitten, he’s ready to fight…because that’s what cats and mice do.  But Harry Kitten offers him a crust of sandwich instead, and the two become fast friends.  Together, they roam New York looking for a home, from the basement of the Empire State Building to manicured Gramercy Park.  But nowhere feels right until they find the bustle of the Times Square Subway Station.

This is an utterly charming series.  Chester Cricket doesn’t appear in this story, but I love Harry and Tucker.  Harry is always so calm, so reasonable, while Tucker is dramatic, anxious and avaricious–and usually the source of humor.  They’re one of my favorite literary friendships, all the more so because it’s between two traditional enemy species.  And their quest for a place to belong is perfectly familiar for humans too. Continue reading “Book Review: Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse”

Cats and Mice in Victorian London

I was between audiobooks recently, and browsed through my library to stumble upon The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright.  How could I resist a story about a cat set in Victorian London?  And even better–read by the amazing Katherine Kellgren!

“He was the best of toms.  He was the worst of toms.”  So says the opening line, describing alleycat Skilley.  He sets out to improve his lot in life by slipping into Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, pub and inn famous for making the best cheese in the realm.  With a grand display of mousing, Skilley earns a place at the inn.  Except he has a secret–he hates eating mice!  Skilley forms an alliance with Pip, the leader of the inn’s mice, but this happy arrangement becomes complicated by the arrival of another (much more vicious!) cat at the inn, as well as the presence of a royal raven who insists he must be returned to the Tower, or England will fall.

This is a delightful little tale with a lovely cast of characters (including Charles Dickens in a supporting role).  The friendship that develops between Skilley and Pip is sweet and genuine, and not without challenges.  I like that the book doesn’t oversimplify the challenges of two traditional enemies forming a friendship.  They have to deal with outside prejudice, and both make mistakes along the way.  It’s a light story, but I like that more complex thread.

That complexity and depth aside, this book has wonderful fun moments.  I particularly enjoy the image of Skilley showing off his mousing skill, by trotting through the inn’s common room all day long, always with a mouse in his mouth–except that it’s Pip, every time, because it’s part of their plan.  So he just keeps catching the same mouse, again and again…

There are some more violent moments in the interactions between cats and mice, but nothing too graphic.  Just be warned the book doesn’t ignore the reality of normal relations between cats and mice.

Besides Mr. Dickens, there’s a good crop of supporting characters, from the hard-faced and terrifying cook, to the hysterical servant Adele (who always seems to be the one who sees mice), to the tiny mouse Too and the wise but condescending raven Maldwyn.  There are a lot of threads of story in here, including Dickens’ writers block, all well-balanced and keeping the adventure moving quickly.

I would not recommend thinking too hard about the sanitation issues of 10,000 mice living in an inn (kind of like Ratatouille that way), but I would recommend having some cheese on hand while reading!  Or listening–because Katherine Kellgren’s reading, of course, was wonderful.  And obviously I recommend picking up this book in one form or another!

Book’s Site:

Other reviews:
Ms. Tami Reads
Reads 4 Tweens
Cat Chat
Anyone else?

Buy it here: The Cheshire Cheese Cat

Holiday Wishes For You

Christmas Tom 2Happy Holidays from me and the talking cat

In the year to come, may all your quests be successful, may Good Fairies look on you kindly (or better yet, look away!) and may you never have to argue with an ogre about his dinner plans…