- Tidy by Emily Gravett
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-8019-2 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-8020-8 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R 4-8 yrs
In this rhyming story, Pete the badger is taking his commitment to forest tidiness very seriously: “He tidied the flowers by checking each patch,/ and snipping off any that didn’t quite match.” Once the leaves begin to fall, Pete shifts into over-drive, bagging up every leaf and then, when the bare trees offend his sensibilities, digging them out. After a flood makes the forest—well, the ground—muddy, he lays concrete down (“No mud/ no leaves/ no mess/ no trees”) and revels in the glorious tidiness before him—until he needs something to eat and a home to go to and realizes he’s made a terrible mistake. Between the anapestic verse and the protagonist who learns a lesson from going ridiculously overboard, this is enjoyably Seussian. Audiences will also appreciate the subversive anti-tidiness push, though adults are free to pitch it as a plea for moderation rather than total disorder. The pencil, watercolor, and crayon art creates a more intricate and enveloping world [End Page 267] than Gravett has previously offered; saturated hues and multiple brushstrokes create a leaf-dense forest that contrasts with the bleak expanse of concrete, and there’s robust comedy in the big-eyed forest critters. Whether they’re encountering it in a teachable moment or just as a rollicking readaloud, kids will enjoy this neat little book about mess.