Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Too Much of A Good Thing! Tidy by Emily Gravett

Deep in the forest lived a badger named Pete,
who tidied and cleaned and kept everything neat.

Neat is good, right?

But Pete is not satisfied by brushing Fox's fur or picking up twigs.

In fact, Pete takes tidiness too far. He polishes birds' beaks and scrubs outcropping rocks. He clips off forest flowers that clash with each other's colors.

When in the fall leaves begin to, er, fall, Pete scurries around, picking them up and putting them in proper trash receptacles, but when the piles of leaves threaten to get beyond daily pickups, Pete vacuums them up into piles of plastic trash bags.

But then the bare trees look terrible! They've got to go, so Pete hires a backhoe. He digs them up. But now the animals that lived in, inside, and under the trees are homeless and bedraggled. The rain threatens to flood the forest floor, and no matter how well Pete wields his mop, the former forest is a muddy mess.

What to do? Pete pops on his hardhat and brings in the heavy paving machines to cover the ground with concrete, a flooring that is easy to clean.

No mud. No leaves.No mess. No trees.


"I'm hungry" Pete thought.
"I deserve a treat."
So he hunted around
For something to eat.

Hmmm! Pete's got nothing. He heads home but there's no door to his den. There's just... concrete!

There's such a thing as too tidy, in Emily Gravett's thought-provoking Tidy (Simon and Schuster, 2017), as compulsive cleaner Pete learns to his sorrow. It looks like Pete's got a forest restoration project to keep him and his woodsy friends busy until spring.

Gravett's story of a badger with OCD pokes fun at overdoing neatness, but also subtly suggests that when it comes to natural order, deferring to Mother Nature is the way to go. Gravett's rhymes are wry and telling, and her artistic skills are charmingly understated but skillfully thought out, with sly touches, as on the final page, with a hairbrush hidden behind his back, Pete still eyes Fox's gnarly tangled fur with that look in his eye. Of this one, Kirkus Reviews adds, "Alarming, timely, gorgeous, and open-ended, allowing readers the time to think for themselves."

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