Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
Patrick McDonnell is a comic strip illustrator, famous for his series MUTTS. He has also written several other picture books, including the New York Times best-seller The Monsters’ Monster and Me…Jane, which received a Caldecott Honor.
A Perfectly Messed-Up Story is the tale of Louie, who is happy until things start to go wrong in the telling of his story. First, a plop of jelly lands on his page, interrupting his sentence.
The jelly is not the only thing to interrupt his story. It is soon followed by a splat of peanut butter, smudgy finger prints and a splash of orange juice. Louie is not pleased. He feels books deserve respect and should be taken care of.
After an incident with some crayon doodles gone awry, Louie becomes so distraught that he gives up all together.
As the story continues, Louie realizes that the story can still be read and loved, despite its setbacks. He begins to love his story again, messes and all.
Overall, we found this book to be humorous and engaging. The illustrations are delightful, and use a variety of mediums to share a quirky story. The moral is sometimes life is messy, but that isn’t a reason to give up; life can still be good, even with messes in it. This is an important message for children, especially those who are stubborn or like things to go their way (as most kids do). We think this would be appropriate for children three and older and would be useful in teaching kids about accepting flaws in life, in themselves and in others. Parents could absolutely use this book in helping kids through transitions, such as welcoming a new sibling, entering a new school or simply a change of plans. We definitely recommend this book and hope it brings you as much laughter as it did us!
-Anna McCarthy and Hayley Robinson