Kevin Henkes has a way of delving into the minds of children, creating picture books that easily speak to them and provide them with entertainment in both his story crafting as well as his illustrations. Little mice grace his pages as the main characters, many of them appearing in several different titles. Here, kids may notice a familiar mouse face from other books, and take joy in seeing what she does this time.
In Chester’s Way, a young mouse by the name of Chester lives just like that. He does not deviate from his likes and dislikes much – if ever. He likes to do things a certain way and luckily for him, his best friend Wilson is just like him. Together they have their lives all set, from cutting sandwiches to playing together. Except now there is a new mouse in town. Lilly. She certainly is different from the other two! She carries around a water pistol (“just in case”), she likes to talk backwards sometimes, and does plenty of other wacky things that Chester and Wilson don’t entirely understand. Then one day, Lilly rescues the two boys from being bullied around. They then realize that maybe Lilly isn’t so strange after all – some of her ways serve her well. Perhaps they might be useful to them too.
Henkes offers up a tale about differences and acceptance and most importantly, friendship. Kids will end up wearing a smile every time they read Chester’s Way. Simple prose makes the story easy to follow and fun to read. They’ll enjoy watching Chester do everything in his specific manner; he’s a very prim and proper mouse. As always, Henkes’s illustrations are bright and colorful with pen-and-ink drawings filled in with sunny watercolors, building up a whole world for the mice to play in. They wear clothes (with Lilly’s being the silliest, with her red cowboy boots), eat sandwiches, and even have little white fences around the yards. Kids ages 4 and up will love to fall right into the story with them, marching around with a cape like Lilly, or wishing they had tails to tie balloons around. What fun!