Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is famous for--well, yes, its cheese. As you may expect of such a place, the Inn is infested with mice, and so the owner decides, as you do, that the Inn is in want of a cat. Skilley, an alley cat with a secret, shameful love of cheese, decides that a warm inn filled with the stuff is exactly the place he wants to be; he works out a deal with the mice to be provided with the cheese (kept behind a locked door) and to protect the mice in exchange. Unfortunately, Pinch, a vicious alley cat and Skilley's nemesis, has also finagled his way inside the Inn, and he has a great taste for mice--the very mice that have become Skilley's business partners, and even friends. Throw in Maldwyn, a secret, cantankerous resident of the Inn's attic, and Charles Dickens, a frequent visitor to the Inn who becomes fascinated by the doings of the animals and unable to think of a great first line for his work in progress, and a secret resident of the inn, and you end up with...well, a Dickens of a Tale, as promised.
I have mentioned before that I don't actually like animal stories all that much. This was a good one, full of vocabulary-stretchers (glossary provided in the back) and coy references to Mr. Dickens's works. It was entertaining and clever, and I liked it. Not enough to move me entirely past the talking animals, but still. Liked.