________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 21 . . . . June 21, 2002

cover The Mess.

Jennifer Wolfe. Illustrated by Cindy Revell.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2002.
32 pp., pbk. $7.95.
ISBN 1-55037-734-5.

Subject Heading:
Plot-your-own stories.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

*** /4


Noah and Emma lived with their Mom and Dad and their pet dog, Dexter.
Everything was going well, until one day Dad said, "This place is a mess!
I tripped over a ______ on the way up the stairs! When I went to the
bathroom, there was a ______ hanging from the towel rack."

Mom rolled her eyes in agreement. "There's a ______ stuck to the doorknob," she shuddered.

"And what about the ______ under the sofa?"

Like a lot of busy households, the family finds that their home has become a mess. The story follows their attempts to clean up their house, only to have a party to celebrate their clean and tidy house, leaving it, well, a mess.

internal art

     The Mess invites kids to write their own story by filling in the blanks with the 66 stickers provided (11 are blank to allow children to make up their own words). With choices like dinosaur, meatball and slug, odds are that any story is sure to be creative and suitably silly to entertain.

     The book is a fun way to develop reading and language skills as well as to just be silly. While the stickers are re-usable, I doubt they would be up to any type of classroom use. The ideal creative mixture would be a small group of kids or one adult and one child.

     My own test group of two five-year-olds and a seven-year-old delighted in coming up with sentences like this:

Mom swept the kitchen, but to her surprise a tarantula ended up in the dustpan. When she opened the closet door, a warthog fell on her head, but it didn't hurt too much...

Finally, it was time for lunch. Dad looked in the fridge.

"Blech!" he exclaimed. "This blob has been in here for so long it's beginning to look like a platypus."

     The text is inventive and fun as are the vibrant illustrations in acrylic that accompany the story. Because it's a story in progress, the chaos can only be hinted at without being drawn in detail. But the illustrations are zany in a style reminiscent of Marie-Louise Gay or Marc Mongeau.

     This book is more a novelty than a book kids will return to again. However, its format makes it perfect for a car or plane ride or for rainy afternoons at the cottage. With the weather we've had so far this summer, parents might do well to stock up on copies. At a retail price of $7.95, it's a very reasonable purchase.


Liz Greenaway is a former bookseller who now lives in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364