cover image A Perfectly Messed-Up Story

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story

Patrick McDonnell. Little, Brown, $17 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-22258-7

Louie, one of McDonnell’s adorable button-nosed creatures, is in the middle of his own story, singing happily when he notices some jelly on the pages. It’s not just a drawing—the photographic blob looks very real, as if readers had spilled jelly on their own book. Then a splotch of peanut butter lands on Louie’s head. “My story is getting all messed up!” he cries. A flurry of fingerprints, a splash of orange juice, and crayon scribbles soon follow. “This is the worst thing ever!” Louie wails, arms flailing wildly. The official-looking narration that starts and restarts as the book progresses (“This is Louie’s story”) turns out to be a kind of coach, an objective voice that urges Louie to take the long view. “I’m still here,” he concludes. “You’re still reading. And it is a pretty good story, messes and all.” Louie’s exaggerated reactions to the growing mess will trigger laughs with every page turn. Yet McDonnell (The Monster’s Monster) excels at reminding his characters—and readers—that it’s possible to keep it together even when life has jelly all over it. Ages 3–6. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Oct.)