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Who is Making a Mess?

Who is Making a Mess?

Maria D’Haene / Charlie Eve Ryan

Life is messy. And sometimes, the person making the mess will surprise you! Sparse text and family scenes from a diverse group of people break expected stereotypes and celebrate the messiness of life in this board book.

retail your price $9.99

Who is Making a Mess?

Who is Making A Mess?

Life is messy. And sometimes, the person making the mess will surprise you! Sparse text and family scenes from a diverse group of people break expected stereotypes and celebrate the messiness of life in this board book.



Complete Series of 1: your price $9.99

  • Reinforced Library Binding

  • Pages: 20

  • Trim Size: 6" x 6"

  • Binding: Board book

Kirkus Reviews,
Starred Review, February 2020

“From spilled motor oil to sprayed water, everyone makes a mess. The repeated phrase ‘Who is making a mess?’ finds everyone from Grandpa to the baby involved in the untidiness. The marriage of D’Haene’s text with Ryan’s illustrations invites readers to guess who’s made each mess based on the images. The purposefully vague initial depiction of the culprit often challenges readers’ assumptions of who has left each smear or heap of debris. For example, the opening illustration shows a denim-clad someone changing the oil in a car, legs poking out from underneath. A turn of the page reveals that it is Mama making that mess while her partner or spouse (gender is unclear) wrangles the little ones. Other scenes—Grandpa baking while wearing an apron and with a baby in a back carrier—play out similarly. The diverse cast includes same-sex parents, interracial families, and many children and adults of color. The repetition of D’Haene’s question-and-answer structure makes it nicely predictable for little readers, with familiarity quicker to build upon repeat readings. Ryan’s illustrations feel alive thanks to the motion of the mess itself, with flying blobs of batter, juicy drips of food, and sprinkles of grease and oil. Charming details provide plenty for readers to pore over each page, and the deep orange, red, and golden yellow tones give the book warmth. Good clean fun. ”

School Library Journal,
July 1, 2020

“Baby-Toddler–A board book built for giving every family a glimpse of faces like theirs. Mama is the mechanic under the car. Grandpa, the bronzed baker with a broom of a moustache, wears a floral apron, carries a glowing mocha baby on his back, and splatters dough everywhere. The seamless collection of good cheer, great efforts, call-and-response wording, and the conclusion that “Life is messy” will resonate with every household, bar none. ”

September 2020

“A fun board book for the youngest children is full of surprises and diverse families as it celebrates the messiness of life. Who Is Making a Mess? written by Maria D’Haene and illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan (Amicus Publishing), is told in alternating two-page spreads. The first spread asks the titular question and shows a close-up portion of an image—jeans-clad legs sticking out from under a car bumper; the bottom of a frilly apron worn by an adult standing next to a child at a table; or the back of an adult standing at a sink of dirty dishes, for example. The second page of each spread changes the perspective to show who is really making the mess. “Mama is making a mess,” we read as we zoom back to see that the jeans-clad legs belong to a woman in overalls fixing a car as her presumed husband stands by holding their baby; their other daughter is fixing her scooter, in imitation of Mama. The frilly apron is worn by a grandpa, helping his grandchildren bake. The person at the sink is a mother wearing a baby carrier over her chest as her baby splashes water; she looks slightly harried as she turns to speak with another woman bringing in groceries, presumably her spouse. The people are racially diverse and come together on the last page for a big, messy picnic. It’s unclear if they’re all part of one big family or just a community, but their joy at being together is obvious. I love the interactivity generated by the question-and-answer format and the zoomed-in/zoomed-out illustrations. Young readers will delight in guessing at what’s to come (even after the umpteenth reading; trust me, I had a toddler)—and in seeing the characters make their messes. Ryan’s images are full of color, motion, and joyous splatters, and make the whole concept work. Subtle messages about breaking gender stereotypes may also serve them well in the years ahead. Who Is Making a Mess? is a book worth adding to the mess on your bookshelf. ”

A Fuse #8 Production (SLJ blog),
December 2020

“It’s not very often that I turn the first page on a board book and then just stop and stare for a while at how beautifully constructed that page truly is. Accompanying the words “Who is making a mess?” the first two pages of this book show a pair of legs sticking out from under a car. But look at how artist Charlie Eve Ryan has so artfully splattered her paints all willy nilly. It’s just beautiful. No less beautiful is what you see when you turn the page and find the answer is “Mama is making a mess”, with her daughter looking to fix a scooter nearby. This book is filled with a wide range of families. From kids who live with gay moms and dads to grandparents to moms and dads, the book’s true focus is on messes and how, often, it’s not the kids that are making them. The final spread of everyone eating at a common table, making a mess, takes away the shame from a very human activity. Feel good about your messes. This book sure does. ”—Elizabeth Bird