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Tuesday Book Review: “Chester” and “Chester’s Back!” plus “Welcome to the Departure Lounge: Adventures in Mothering Mother”

April 7th, 2009

Today I’ll review two children’s books + one grown-up book, what do you think about that?

“Chester” by Melanie Watt, no, it’s by Chester, it turns out, Melanie’s cat. (Kids Can Press, 2007, $16.95.) And he also wrote the sequel, “Chester’s Back!”, which is NOT a Melanie Watt book, thank you! (Kids Can Press, 2008, $18.95.) This one was also “Written and illustrated by Melanie Watt’s hero.”

Chester says, blah, blah, blah, get to the reviews already, lady.

A long time ago, in a faraway land, lived a cat named Chester.
NOT ready yet!
A long time ago…
CHESTER, not THAT long ago!
CAVE CAT take over!
Ooga Chugga Ooga Chugga!”

(from “Chester’s Back!”)

These books are delightful — the drawings are lively, full of color and movement, made from pencil and watercolor, and assembled digitally. Chester is amiable, of course, even as he hijacks Melanie’s projects and runs away with them.

Does he like mice? No, he does not.

“Hasta la vista, Mousie!” — Chester

Now on to a selection for the adults in the house. Meg Federico, a writer from Nova Scotia, writes her mother Addie’s story in “Welcome to the Departure Lounge.” The book is by turns hysterical and depressing, over-the-top funny and too poignant for words. I read it quickly, then loaned it to my mom. I can’t wait to talk about it with her. It would be a great book club pick, this one.

What to do with Addie and Walter, the author’s well-to-do, aging mother, and Walter, Addie’s “new” husband? He’s soused, she’s soused, and good luck getting the credit cards away from them — they’ll just apply for new ones. And good luck finding good help to provide in-home care. The cow jumped over the moon, the dish ran away with the spoon and someone ran off with all the jewelry. (Except Walter’s — it turns up, eventually.) Ms. Federico gives a disclaimer early on that she is well aware that not everyone can afford in-home care. I was wishing she would have bankrupted her mom and put her into a nice assisted living place.

Oh, wait. She did try that — Addie checked herself out.

“Mentally competent” is not really how I would describe Ms. Addie, but the doctors disagreed.

Ms. Federico is one of the best writers I’ve come across in ages, and her writing sings and stings. Brilliant work.

Reviewed today:

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