Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Cat With Attitude

Every now and then I go through the new picture books at my local library. Recently I found two very clever ones by Melanie Watt.

As soon as I saw the "Place My Award Here" spot on Chester, I knew to expect some attitude. The book delivers. The publisher describes it as a story told "by dueling author-illustrators." In fact, Melanie Watt becomes a character in the story, a character who is trying to write and illustrate a book that keeps being hijacked by a cat named Chester. I guess a child reader could either consider him to be a real cat who wants to write this book or a character who wants to take over. Either way, Chester is, as he himself says, "Charming Handsome Envy of Mouse Smart Talented Envy of Melanie Really Handsome."

He returns in Chester's Masterpiece in which the two author-illustrators continue to duke it out on paper. This time, though, Chester's creative struggle "illustrates" plenty about the writing process. A nice addition to a grade school writing program, perhaps?

Chester made a third appearance in 2008 in Chester's Back!, though I haven't read it.

Plot Project: After thinking about plot these many months for my Plot Project, I have decided that some plots are "organic" in that they grow out of situation, rather than falling into the "What does your character want? How can you keep it from him?" format. The plots for these books are organic. They come out of the basic situation of the author fighting with a character.


MotherReader said...

Good picture book choices. I liked the first two better than the third, but they are all unique and fun picture books.

Gail Gauthier said...

Well, some people might find the third one a little instructive, and that can be a problem. That kind of thing usually sets my teeth on edge. Evidently I don't mind it nearly as much when the instruction is in something I'm interested in.