TIDY LADY by Anne Lindbergh


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An odd fable about a lady who enlists two neighbor children to help clean up her overgrown yard. Though they enjoyed playing there before she moved in, the children help willingly as the lady rakes and mows, putting the debris in the street. But the project soon passes through the bizarre to the surreal: the tidy lady prunes the bushes and then cuts them down, dismantles and dismembers the trees (slicing the trunks like carrots), and rolls up the lawn. Not yet content, she rakes out the stars and pulls down the sky, stuffing it into a bag to go out to the street with everything else. Finally, she shrinks the house, picks it up, and goes away. Later, the children--who rather liked the birds and the stars--put back everything but the house. In Hoguet's straightforward illustrations, the three characters are all blandly attractive but display little emotion and hardly get dirty; and though a sandcastle appears, suggesting a desert, there is never a real feeling of loss or desolation--nor is there much joy in the renewal of the last pages; in Lindbergh's text, the woman is not menacing, just quietly incomprehensible. An eerie, thought-provoking concept that could have benefited from more careful development.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich