Chester's Back! by Melanie Watt

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Chester's Back! by Melanie Watt

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: Exuberant artwork combined with jokes aimed at the habits of celebrity stars: great for owners of bolshy cats but not so good for children aged 4 to 7 who are its target readership.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 32 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0007270248

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Chester was an entertainingly wacky tale of an author's cat who decides to edit and improve the author's book: instead of the initially intended story we had a tale of a struggle between the author and the animal.

Chester's Back is a follow up to the earlier book, this time recounting the attempts at a new story (or maybe a film), starring Chester himself. Chester, however, exhibits all the foibles of a spoiled movie star, refuses to appear and sabotages Melanie's attempts at hiring the replacement. Will he get his comeuppance, or will he get his way?

It's all rather delightfully post-modern, with inter and intra textual references everywhere, winks following allusions and jokes chasing jokes. There is very little story as such, though: it took me quite a while to work out what actually the story is and in all honesty I am still not entirely sure.

The artwork is exuberant, lively and dynamic; Chester himself delightfully smug, his red-penned corrections and messages a hoot.

However, and it is a huge however, this is a picture book of thirty two pages. Its intended audience is likely to be pre-literate or (at best) just beginning to read children: older pre-schoolers and perhaps the first two years of primary school.

I have huge troubles imagining many of those children being able to make head or tail of this Chester story. My eight year old just about could, roughly, though she certainly missed many of the jokes, and she's reading 'proper novels' now, not picture books. Some younger children might like it for the sheer graphic mayhem, but even the format of the text is such that it's almost necessary to be able to read it yourself.

The first Chester book had a decent joint appeal, but Chester's Back goes too far in creating a work that's likely to be largely lost on its prime audience: great for owners of bolshy cats and as a gentle satire on celebrity stars; but less good for children aged 4 to 7 who are its supposed readership.

The review copy was sent to the Bookbag by the publisher - thank you!

For more mayhem which we can recommend have a look at Don't Read This Book! by Jill Lewis and Deborah Allwright.

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Buy Chester's Back! by Melanie Watt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chester's Back! by Melanie Watt at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Chester's Back! by Melanie Watt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chester's Back! by Melanie Watt at


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