Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 4 to 8
- Grade: p to 3
- Reading age: 4 to 8
Chester's finally ready to write his own masterpiece --- he just needs to get Mélanie Watt out of the way! A wry take on the creative process and how good stories are constructed.
When Chester (the cat) announces he's taking over for Mélanie Watt on this book due to some technical difficulties*, Mélanie begs to differ. She tells him that no one will want to publish his messy book. And she demands that he return her supplies so she can get to work. Chester insists he can create the best, most original story anyone has ever read in their entire nine lives. Only, his attempts don't quite work. Even with Mélanie's prodding, Chester struggles to find his own story to tell. Hmm ... will the real author and illustrator have the last laugh after all?
*Mélanie's art supplies and computer mouse have mysteriously gone missing.
Here's another hilarious Chester picture book from award-winning and bestselling author-illustrator Mélanie Watt. The story is told through the dialogue between Watt, who communicates on sticky notes, and Chester, whose comments are tucked around his creations, which sprawl across the spreads and include loads of tape, staples, and torn-out notebook paper. Chester himself, as drawn by Watt, and his trusty red marker dominate the action, and the pure silly fun makes this a popular read-aloud. Bits of humor can be found all over the pages --- including running commentary from an actual mouse --- encouraging visual literacy. With its wry take on the creative process and how good stories are constructed, this is also a perfect companion to lessons on the parts of story, including genre, setting, plot and characters.
About the author
La jeune auteure-illustratrice Mélanie Watt, née à Trois-Rivières, a remporté pour son travail de prestigieuses récompenses, dont le Prix Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz, le Prix Blue Spruce et le Prix Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon, tous les trois pour Frisson l'écureuil.
It was in a design class taught by Michèle Lemieux at the University of Quebec in Montreal that author and illustrator Mélanie Watt created her first picture book, Leon the Chameleon, which was later published by Kids Can Press. Watt went on to create several more books, including the Learning with Animals collection and Augustine, which was named an ALA Notable Children's Book. Watt has also illustrated Where Does a Tiger-Heron Spend the Night? and Bearcub and Mama, which won the 2006 IRA Teachers” Choices Project.
Mélanie's best known book, Scaredy Squirrel, has won many awards, including the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children”s Book Award for Children”s Picture Book and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator”s Award. The release of Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend was met with enthusiastic reviews and incredible sales, confirming the arrival of kid lit's newest superstar. Chester, Chester's Back! and Chester's Masterpiece are about a megalomaniac cat who is every bit the antithesis to Scaredy. Chester has already become a bestseller, and shows the breadth and creativity of Mélanie Watt.
Scaredy returns to take a few more tentative steps out of his comfort zone in Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach and Scaredy Squirrel at Night. Mélanie has often noted how the Scaredy Squirrel books helped her work out her own insecurities and fears, as the success of these titles has required her to venture out into the unknown, and like Scaredy she has found the experience truly uplifting.
Mélanie currently resides near Montreal, Quebec.
- Winner, Golden Archer Award, Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association
- Winner, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award, Ontario Arts Council
This dialogue vividly conveys what books are all about - genre , setting , plot, heroes , ending - in uproarious fashion.
The back and forth conversation between character and creator, along with the visual and verbal energy Watt brings to every project she undertakes, keeps us glued to the page.
Quill & Quire
The clever concept still works, and the warring banter will have readers eagerly flipping the pages, up to the laugh-out-loud conclusion.
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
The tongue-in-cheek back and forth dialogue between the cat and his off-scene author will be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
School Library Journal
There are plenty of giggles along the way, and the author's revenge (not to mention Chester's hiding place for her supplies) will elicit gales of laughter. A must purchase, especially where the first two are loved.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
Chester’s Masterpiece“Who needs a rodent-loving children’s book creator like Mélanie Watt when you can read an original, smart story by the famous cat CHESTER!” The mischievous cat has hidden all of Mélanie’s writing “stuff ” so that he can write the picture book she was beginning. At first, Chester rehashes other stories, and can’t decide what kind of story he wants to write. Finally, he decides to write an adventure story about Skipper Mouse and Captain Cat. When he eventually runs out of red ink, Mélanie asks him, “Is there a problem Chester?”
Chester’s Masterpiece creates a magical world for young readers where cats can write picture books, mice can comment on the action, and a writer can communicate with sticky notes! The illustrations and the text are so intricately interconnected that the reader will be searching every shred of print and illustration to enjoy the story more fully. Using red ink, yellow sticky notes, as well as illustrations and collage techniques, Mélanie Watt has produced a visual feast for the eyes which tells the humourous story of a prankster cat, but it also explores the world of artistic expression, creativity and the writing process.
Young readers will be intrigued by the interactive text. Teachers and caregivers will appreciate the opportunity to discuss the amusing text, the imaginative illustrations and the unusual design of this picture book. We find out that the writing process can be messy through Chester’s writer’s block and unsuccessful attempts at storytelling. Chester’s Masterpiece teaches readers that it isn’t easy to write, but we can all do it!
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2010. Vol.33 No.2.