THE LEGEND OF MESSY M'CHEANY by Kathie Lee Gifford

THE LEGEND OF MESSY M'CHEANY

Age Range: 4 - 6

KIRKUS REVIEW

In this pointless parable of the sexes, Victorian gender roles—portrayed as inborn—compete with poor scansion for the most awkward element. From sentence one, the verse forces words where they don’t fit: “Come on, children, gather ’roun’, / And I’ll tell you a tale of the worst kid in town.” Messy M’Cheany revels in chaos and dirt. He tornadoes through life, happy and sometimes funny—“His mother would bathe him, then put him to bed… / And somehow he’d wake up with dirt on his head.” Then a baby sister arrives, “pink and fluffy and powdered and clean” (really?), and becomes the voice of tidiness. “Messy tried to teach Missy how to be dirty, / But she only liked to dress up and be purty.” Using curtsies and manners, Missy wins their Wild West showdown: “Messy said ‘Never.’ / Missy said ‘Please.’ / And that ‘please’ brought Messy to his knees.” Morality’s on her side—Messy was “a bum” before. Lest readers see individual characters rather than generalized sex roles, the text cements gender’s yoke: “Messy thought he was king of the world / Till one day he discovered his world had been ‘girl’d.’ ” A full faux-Indian warbonnet (as costume) adds racial stereotype. Alexandersen’s cartoonish illustrations are energetic but forgettable. The egocentric ending—“Missy M’Cheany grew up to be… ME!”—panders to Gifford’s adult fans. Skip. (CD unheard) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7624-4137-2
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Running Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2011




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