Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chester Fest Part One: Wherein I talk about degrees of authorness and extrapolate on the hilarious plots and genius of Melanie Watt

First of all, I must explain my degrees of author interest. In general, all I require from an author as far as personalities go is that they have a findable name. Now, I don't mean spellable - nobody can spell OR pronounce Scieszka (except a small and select number of librarians) but he's very findable. "That guy with the funny name who writes funny books" and "Jon s-something" are easily findable. On the other hand, that new author, Olga something? I think it starts with a P and it's extremely long and full of consonants? Yeah, even I can't remember it. So, in general, that's all I require from authors.

Of course, there are those authors whom I think of as....you know, Real People. The kind of people if I met them we might go out for Chinese and talk books. Mostly people whose blogs I read and they feel, well, comfy. Like Kate Coombs and Laurel Snyder and the author who I feel sort of belongs to me, Jean Little or maybe I belong to her.

Then there is a very small, very select number of authors whom, should I ever be lucky enough to meet, I would be totally floored by the exultant delight of meeting such amazing people. Patricia C. Wrede is sort of between these last two, because she seems like such a friendly, down to earth sort of person, but on the other hand I have been a fan of her books since I was (relatively and speaking agewise) small and I read them again every year marveling at her genius. Part of the reason this number is so small is that most of the authors I love are dead....

Anyhow, I place Melanie Watt in this last category. I want to see what a true genius looks like. I want to know if her every word makes small children giggle and grown-ups choke with laughter. Most of all of course, I want to meet the REAL Chester. But, alas, I believe Ms. Watt lives in Canada. So, we must content ourselves with the delight of her stories, which I introduce to you with no more digressions...

Melanie Watt is writing a story. A perfectly good, if a little banal, story about a small mouse. A mouse? Who wants to hear about mice when there are amazing, charming cats! To be specific, one cat. Armed with a large red marker. Chester and Melanie spar back and forth, using a combination of art and dialogue to tell a story about a story within a story, until the final hilarious ending, when Chester gets his comeuppance and exits vowing revenge.

Remember that whole revenge thing? Well, Melanie has compromised and is offering Chester a starring role in her next story. But Chester, being the ultimate diva, isn't satisfied and once more decides to take over, forcing Melanie to search for more amenable talent and resulting in an even funnier showdown between the harrassed author and self-proclaimed genius cat.

Yes, I did said genius. Writing a story should be easy for a genius, shouldn't it? Melanie Watt, mysteriously bereft of her writing and illustrating materials, is forced to communicate with the sneaky Chester through increasingly irate post-it notes as Chester attempts to create his own story and art from scratch. Unfortunately, even without a cat to interfere, it's not as simple as it looks. Chester's unconventional and ridiculously bad story slips neatly into the realm of so-bad-it's-excellent and keeps the reading in stitches the whole way through.

Stay tuned for more Chester Fest, coming soon!

Chester, Chester's Back, and Chester's Masterpiece by Melanie Watt. I bought the first two, partly in order to claim for myself a marvelous Chester bag and the third was given me to review by Raab Associates.


Kate Coombs said...

I would TOTALLY go out for Chinese and talk books with you! Thanks for the Chester--I haven't seen these. But I love Melanie Watt's character, Scaredy Squirrel.

Jennifer said...

Awwww, you're so sweet (-:) If you love Scaredy Squirrel, you will ADORE Chester.