As reliable as the muezzin’s call are the four words that echo in every child’s ear: pick up this mess!
“I’ve made a mess,” says the cat, not without a hint of pride. The dog is not so sure: “Maybe you should clean it up.” Powell-Tuck’s dog has an innate sense of tidiness, and her cat would be hard-pressed to think of something more boring than cleaning up. The cat tries shoving the mess—a rather gay collage of a mess, as Smythe presents it, much like the remains of a stack of glossy magazines once a hamster is through with them—but the neighbors are not inclined to house the mess, nor are the denizens of the ocean when the cat tries to sink the mess. “And now the mess is soggy,” notes the dog. The cat ponders: “We could hide the mess under my bed…or blow it up…or eat it.” Enough, says the dog. When the vacuum cleaner explodes from excess capacity, cat agrees to just plain pick the stuff up. Which calls for a party. Which results in another mess. The book is a good laugh, but it is also fundamentally provocative: is making a mess worth the consequences? Of course it is.
Powell-Tuck nails it: it was your fun; now it is your mess. Do the right thing, which is the doorway to more fun. (Picture book. 3-7)