Picture Books that Celebrate Messy

I am a neat freak. Yet, my children have a collection of of books about messy children. Some of these books celebrate messy where others offer messages how keeping cleaning is important.

Here is the beginning list of books about the delights and horrors of messy, dirty, and just plain gross.

the girl who wouldn't brush her hair

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair by Kate Bernheimer and Jake Parker (2013)

“There once was a girl who wouldn’t brush her hair . . .” the story begins. Although the main character will take a bath every night, she will not brush her hair. And then one night a mouse takes residence in her tangled hair. She is okay with it and more and more mice move into her tangled and hair. They eat her food and convince her not to take baths anymore. She starts to smell and loses sleep. This is no good. She devises a plan so that the mice will leave her hair.

photo 4-5

Super-Completely and Totally the Messiest written by Judith Viorst with pictures by Robin Preiss Glasser illustrator of Fancy Nancy (2001)

This book is told from the perspective of neat and perfect Olivia, older sister to messy and clumsy Sophia. Sophia’s room is a disaster and she gets everything messy in a matter of seconds. “You wouldn’t want her in your new car,” Olivia declares. As much as Olivia wants her sister to be neat like her, her family makes her realize that Sophia is caring, kind, and creative, despite being messiness.

Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joe written by Dave Keane and illustrated by Denise Brunkus (2009)

Like Sophia in Super-Completely and Totally the Messiest, Sloppy Joe is messy but he has a kind and caring heart. He admits, “I slurp, spill, slouch, talk with my mouth full, and put my elbows on the table.” But when his family gets the flu, Sloppy Joe takes charge as Neat Joe to help everyone get better. Although, Sloppy Joe has some connections to Amelia BeDelia, despite wanting to change, his parents love him just the way he is with the old stale sandwiches in his room and mud on his sneakers.

too many toys spread

Too Many Toys by David Shannon (2008)

Spencer has too many toys and when his mother decides it is time to donate some of them, the negotiating begins. What should stay and what should go? In the end there is some consensus, but the box with the donated toys makes the best toy ever. The mountains of toys that Shannon illustrates on each page might be a child’s delight and a parent’s worst nightmare.

thanks a lot emily post

Thanks a LOT, Emily Post! written by Jennifer LaRue Huget and illustrated Alexandra Boiger (2009)

For four brothers and sisters, when their mom brings home a book by Emily Post, new rules dictate their behavior. No elbows on the tables, no talking while chewing food, play fair with others. The children decide to take matters into their own hands and give their mother a bit of Emily Post’s advice too. The book’s illustrations are great with lots of emotion in each of the characters presented.

lola spread

The Taming of Lola: A Shrew Story written by Ellen Weiss and illustrated by Jerry Smath (2010)

Although this book is not about being messy, it is about an obnoxious young mole who is a handful. This picture book is a play on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Weiss and Smath, present Lola with a bad attitude and awful temper. When Lola’s cousin comes for a visit, she meets her match. Lester is just as stubborn, demanding, and as rude as Lola. Lester’s visit holds a mirror to Lola as they battle each over the silliest of things.

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