Pete the badger learns that being tidy isn’t always the best thing in this save-the-environment picture book from award-winning author and illustrator Emily Gravett.
Pete the badger likes everything to be neat and tidy at all times, but what starts as the collecting of one fallen leaf escalates quickly and ends with the complete destruction of the forest. Will Pete realize the error of his ways and reverse his tidying habit?
Pete the badger works ceaselessly as the forest's cleaner-upper early on, Gravett (Little Mouse's Big Book of Beasts) paints him grooming a fox and giving an owl a sponge bath so autumn, with all those untidy leaves, fills him with anxiety. He swings into action, and readers see him atop a mountain of leaf-filled trash bags. Now, the leafless trees bother Pete; he digs them up, and when that leaves a muddy mess, he paves it all over "perfectly tidy and perfectly neat" with disastrous consequences. There's no suggestion of malice behind Pete's actions; Gravett's bouncy rhymes emphasize instead his single-minded devotion to his goal ("Pete called in the diggers,/ he called in the mixers,/ he called in the concrete,/ the rakers, the fixers"). In the background, the delicate leaves and gnarled trunks of Gravett's forest testify to the beauty of nature just as it is. A die-cut cover whose openings reveal Pete among the trees underscores the sense of deep, luxuriant growth. Some may miss the dark humor of Gravett's earlier books, but her message about environmental damage is delivered with the lightest of touches. Ages 4 8.