A Giant Mess – Jeffrey Ebbeler. Holiday House, 2020. 9780823446391
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? Molly is supposed to be cleaning her room, but is having too much fun playing with the toys she should be picking up. Her mother exclaims, “This is a giant mess!” But right outside, an actual giant mess is about to happen… as a giant toddler named Jack wanders away from his picnicking giant parents and begins stomping through town, looking at all the ‘cool toys,’ plucking animals from the zoo and an airplane from the sky. Next he takes the roof off of Molly’s house and picks her up, declaring that he likes her the best, despite her insistence that she is not actually a toy. He plays with her and his other acquisitions for a bit, until his parents call to him to pick up his toys. He does not want to leave, but makes a half-hearted attempt to clean up (by dropping many of his things into a parking garage, tossing a garbage truck into a pond, and depositing the zoo animals into a dress shop), until Molly channels her mother and scolds him to do the job the right way. Despite their best efforts, there is still a fair amount of cleanup to do in the end, but readers can assume that Molly has learned a bit about responsibility AND knowing when to ask for help.
Young readers will find this imaginative romp quite funny. The simple vocabulary and short sentences in speech bubbles will allow readers to pay close attention to the detailed illustrations, which show scenes from both Molly’s and Jack’s perspectives. The comic book format lends itself perfectly to the story, even if the panels are not quite as perfectly square and sequential as other comics for this level. The characters and their toys burst energetically out of many of the panels, and different font sizes and colors indicate voice levels and onomatopoeia. The publisher appears to be capitalizing on the trend of creating early reader comics, and this one will be a hit.
To whom would you recommend this book? Lower elementary readers who aren’t quite ready for comics like Dog Man or Lunch Lady will be excited for the raucous, chaotic fun of A Giant Mess.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Early readers or early reader comics
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: 7/8/2021