Author/Illustrator: Mélanie Watt (although Chester the Cat would disagree)
Publisher: Toronto, ON, Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2010
Genre: Picture book, fiction, humor
Audience Age: 5 to 9 years of age
Themes/Topics: Humor, writing
Opening Sentences: Readers, are you ready for the best, most ORIGINAL story you have ever read in your entire 9 lives? Turn the page and let’s start…
Synopsis: Chester the Cat (a very large calico cat) has taken over one of Mélanie Watt’s books to hilarious effect. Even the copyright information page is filled with funny asides by Chester. The feline contributions appear to be in red marker on notebook paper with Mélanie Watts’ comments appearing as if on sticky notes throughout the book as she attempts to get her hijacked book under control.
Kids (and adults) will laugh out loud throughout the book. I particularly like page 6, after a blank page. Mélanie’s sticky note asks “Do you have writer’s block, Chester?” to which he replies, “NOPE!!! I just don’t know what to write about.”
Readers will wonder throughout the book if Mélanie will ever get her book back, while absorbing lessons about how to write stories (without realizing they are learning). For instance, when Chester starts writing a story that’s exactly like a well-known fairytale, Mélanie explains plagiarism to him by simply stating that you can’t just use someone else’s story.
NOTE: Mélanie Watt is the author/illustrator of the very popular Scaredy Squirrel series.
Activities/Resources: There are a couple of ways kids could be challenged to write and illustrate their own stories after reading this book – either simply to produce their own picture book, or to imagine what their pet would write were he/she to do what Chester did.
In looking for activities online, I discovered a wonderful website, Books4Learning. Here’s a blog post about all the Chester books (Yes! There are more!) with activity suggestions for Chester’s Masterpiece.
The publisher, Kids Can Press, also has some great storytime ideas and activities on their Chester’s Masterpiece page (click on Storytime Activities in the left sidebar.)
Availability: Available in hardcover, online or through your local independent bookstore.
Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”