cover image Keeping House

Keeping House

Margaret Mahy. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-689-50515-7

Lizzie Firkin, a songwriter, lives in a decaying old house with her cat and parrot, and spends her nights performing in a nightclub. When the exhausted Lizzie can no longer pick up after herself--and can't walk across the room for clutter--she calls on the services of Robin Puckertucker, a professional housecleaner with a dynamic reputation. Lizzie notices her cat asleep in the breadbox and, worried that the housekeeper will think she is too sloppy, begins to tidy up. By the time Robin arrives, he is dismayed to find that Lizzie's house looks very neat. Noting one idiosyncrasy--all of the cupboard doors are nailed shut--Robin toys with a nail, and is soon buried in an avalanche of debris. Mahy's eccentric story-telling style and Smith's ramblingly explicit drawings are a perfect match. The characterization of Lizzie as a slovenly young woman in the grip of artistic compulsion is wonderfully complete, and the looks she gets from her two pets are priceless. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)