Dirty dishes, food and leaves on the floor, mice, nasty insects like big-eyed flies, spiders, mice, a butterfly or two—what is a tidy little girl to do?
Federica’s dad is busy with his telescope. Federica’s mum (wearing rollerblades) is occupied with her laptop and her painting. Her little brother seems perfectly content, but the “buggy, buzzy mess” amusingly pictured in the first double-page spread really bothers Federica. She goes to the park for respite. It’s full of unusual creatures: a goat and some sheep. There are also raccoons, an owl, a toad, and, of course, insects. It’s there that the young white girl thinks of a plan that will transform her messy house. There is a hint of the Yiddish folk tale familiar from It Could Always Be Worse, by Margot Zemach (1977). Federica brings all the park animals into her home, but here the animals are not meant to crowd out the humans but rather to eat the flies and mice, clean the kitchen, and consume the long grass. The resourceful girl succeeds in making her house fit for habitation again and releases the animals back to the park. The loose ink-and–Adobe Photoshop illustrations are a riot, milking the absurdity for all it’s worth. At the end, the mother rollerblades as she washes the floor, with baby brother riding the mop.
There’s plenty of yuck-factor silliness, and the penultimate spread, of the family uniting for “cleanup hour,” is very inviting. (Picture book. 4-7)