From spilled motor oil to sprayed water, everyone makes a mess.
The repeated phrase “Who is making a mess?” finds everyone from Grandpa to the baby involved in the untidiness. The marriage of D’Haene’s text with Ryan’s illustrations invites readers to guess who’s made each mess based on the images. The purposefully vague initial depiction of the culprit often challenges readers’ assumptions of who has left each smear or heap of debris. For example, the opening illustration shows a denim-clad someone changing the oil in a car, legs poking out from underneath. A turn of the page reveals that it is Mama making that mess while her partner or spouse (gender is unclear) wrangles the little ones. Other scenes—Grandpa baking while wearing an apron and with a baby in a back carrier—play out similarly. The diverse cast includes same-sex parents, interracial families, and many children and adults of color. The repetition of D’Haene’s question-and-answer structure makes it nicely predictable for little readers, with familiarity quicker to build upon repeat readings. Ryan’s illustrations feel alive thanks to the motion of the mess itself, with flying blobs of batter, juicy drips of food, and sprinkles of grease and oil. Charming details provide plenty for readers to pore over each page, and the deep orange, red, and golden yellow tones give the book warmth.
Good clean fun.(Board book. 1-3)