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Monday, March 1, 2010

Chester's Masterpiece, written and illustrated by Melanie Watt. Kids Can Press, 2010. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"Dear Readers,
I am thrilled to announce that Melanie Watt will NO longer be writing or illustrating children's books because of a toothache and some technical difficulties. So, I will now gladly replace her! P.S. I hid Melanie's art
supplies and computer mouse. C."

It's hard to remember that there is no Chester...that while he and Melanie Watt are having their war of words, and chastising each other for their failures and foibles, there really aren't two of them involved. He is such a strong and loveable (despite his disagreeable and condescending manner) character that he has life! It is Melanie Watt's strength to have us suspend our belief and use our imaginations to embark on this story of storying.

Chester does his best to convince his readers that Melanie no longer has control and this story is all his! Being not so accomplished at his trade as she is, it is Chester who runs into difficulty and needs some guidance on the way to completing his story independently. He's quick to tell us it's original, but the story seems remarkably familiar. When encouraged to strike out on his own and write something original, he needs persistent prompts to get to the meat of the tale he wants to tell. He finally settles for telling a mouse story which doesn't end well. Encouragement is needed once again to ensure a happier ending for the mouse, and Chester is adamant that he will write the story he wants to write...until he encounters an insurmountable and story stopping problem. However, he does manage the final 'raspberry'! Then again, you might just want to check that back cover. It has a strongly stated proviso.

So much to read and see! You will not be disappointed in this third tale of Chester the Cat. Kids will love it and will pore over the words, the admonitions, the artwork with keen eyes and equally keen interest in the art of storytelling.

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