Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Review - Chester's Masterpiece

Author/Illustrator: Melanie Watt
Publisher: Kids Can Press (March 1, 2010)
Age Level: Ages 4 to 8
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Description from Kids Can Press:

Chester's finally ready to write his own masterpiece — he just needs to get pesky writer-illustrator Mélanie Watt out of the way.

Chester's solo attempts at storytelling are messy, to say the least, but he's determined to go it alone. But where's his story going? After several alternative (but always unhappy) endings, Chester is confronted by a problem he never bargained for. A wry comment on the creative process and how good stories are constructed, this is the most uproarious Chester book yet.

Have you ever discovered an author or illustrator makes you want to go back to the library or bookstore to find everything you can by them? This is what happened recently when I happened upon Melanie Watt. I read one of her books and then had to pick up another and then another. I didn't have time to read all of them but I do plan on reading more and collecting lots of her books.

Out of the ones that I did recently read, Chester's Masterpiece was my favorite. Chester is one of Melanie's characters. He is a bit on the cranky side, which makes him all the more lovable. Chester is also a really fat cat. In the newest installment, Chester with the help of his red marker has commandeered the writing of the book from Watt. The story is told from a kind of dialogue between Chester (in red pen) and Watt (in penciled yellow sticky notes).

Here is an example:
Watt on yellow sticky: Chester, What are you up to??? My tooth is fine!! Where's all my stuff? And where's my mouse? M.W.

Chester in red pen: It's right here (with arrow pointing to a small white mouse).

Watt on yellow sticky: You know that's not the mouse I'm talking about.

As Chester attempts to write his story, Watt interjects some writerly advice. At one point, Watt even tries to help Chester with his writer's block which produces some wonderful discussion. Chester not only insists on writing the story but also on illustrating the book. Despite all of Chester's attempts at ignoring or insulting Watt, she gets the last laugh in the end, well sort of.

I get excited about a book that both a child will laugh at and enjoy hearing over and over again and one that the adult who will be reading it 100 times will also love over and over again. This is exactly one of those books. Author/Illustrator Watt has her hands full with this snarky feline. The contrast between the bold, bright red writing/drawings and Watt's pencil is perfect. The dialogue educational and entertaining. This is not only a must read but also a must have. I picked up one for my own personal library and will be picking up a several copies for gift. Enjoy!

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I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~