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on 28 February 2010
If '1984' or 'The Trial' had been a children's book, Mr Messy would be it. No literary character has ever been so fully and categorically obliterated by the forces of social control. Hargreaves may well pay homage to Kafka and Orwell in this work, but he also goes beyond them.

We meet Mr Messy - a man whose entire day-to-day existence is the undiluted expression of his individuality. His very untidiness is a metaphor for his blissful and unselfconscious disregard for the Social Order. Yes, there are times when he himself is a victim of this individuality - as when he trips over a brush he has left on his garden path - but he goes through life with a smile on his face.

That is, until a chance meeting with Mr Neat and Mr Tidy - the archetypal men in suits. They set about a merciless programme of social engineering and indoctrination that we are left in no doubt is in flagrant violation of his free will. 'But I like being messy' he protests as they anonymize both his home and his person with their relentless cleaning activity, a symbolism thinly veiled.

This process is so thorough that by the end of it he is unrecognizable - a homogenized pink blob, no longer truly himself (that vibrant Pollock-like scribble of before). He smiles the smile of a brainwashed automaton, blandly accepting what he has been given no agency to question or refuse. It is in this very smile that the sheer horror of what we have seen to occur is at its most acute.

Somewhere behind this blank expression though is a latent anger - a trace of self-knowledge as to what he once was - in the barbed observation he makes to Neat and Tidy that they have even deprived him of his name.

The book ends with a dry reminder from Hargreaves that just as with the secret police in some totalitarian regime, our own small expressions of uniqueness and volition may also result in a visit from these sinister suited agents.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 May 2015
Not only does Mr. Messy look a mess, his whole surroundings are a mess and yes, it is his fault as he does not clean up after himself. For example he leaves the lid off the toothpaste, spills cereal all over the floor, trips over a brush he left lying in the yard. I don't know about your children but I can see some of Mr. Messy in all mine! There is a cure :)

On this particular day, Mr. Messy meets Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy and his life is never the same again. Please note that it is not Mr. Messy who is made to clean and tidy up so some kids might get the wrong impression that they do not have to be responsible in this area BUT I think most won't. After Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy are finished, guess where they put Mr. Messy? Somewhere to get clean! He doesn't even look the same once they are finished with him.

A humourous book to demonstrate not only how bad things can get when being untidy is left unchecked but also what a difference cleaning up can make. Happy reading! Thanks, Liz
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on 22 May 2015
Our 4 year old grandson has fallen in love with the Mr Men stories, like his father before him. Only wish I'd kept the books from 35 years ago! He can have the stories read to him time and time again, and knows them off by heart now. Mr Messy is a good example to use when asking children to be neat and tidy and clear up after themselves, just like the characters in the book!
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VINE VOICEon 20 May 2004
Researchers constantly find that reading to children is valuable in a variety of ways, not least of which are instilling a love of reading and improved reading skills. With better parent-child bonding from reading, your child will also be more emotionally secure and able to relate better to others. Intellectual performance will expand as well. Spending time together watching television fails as a substitute.
To help other parents apply this advice, as a parent of four I consulted an expert, our youngest child, and asked her to share with me her favorite books that were read to her as a young child. Mr. Messy was one of her picks.
Mr. Messy really is aptly named. He lived in a messy looking house with peeling paint, broken windows, a garden gate falling off its hinges, uncut grass, random items all over the house along with an unmade bed, and a broom that he tripped on in the garden. In fact, he was so messy, he bothered my daughter. As a result, she did something that she usually did not do . . . she got her crayons out and began making things look better.
Then Mr. Messy went for a walk and found the neatest cottage he had ever seen. Outside were Mr. Clean and Mr. Neat who were tidying things up. They asked Mr. Messy if they could help him. Mr. Messy agreed, and they quickly cleaned up the outside. Then they cleaned up the inside. Then, they realized that Mr. Messy needed work, too, and they cleaned him up also. After that, Mr. Messy said that 'I'm going to have to change my name!' All three became best of friends.
For years, whenever our daughter's room would start to get messy, we would ask her if she wanted a visit from Mr. Neat and Mr. Clean. She would laugh and start picking things up.
This is a good book for helping your child learn good tidiness habits, because the consequences of the alternative become obvious in a particularly humorous way.
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on 8 July 2017
We had this book missing from our collection (well we have a few!) and my son loves Mr Messy so we bought. Delivered the next day and we read at bedtime and my son LOVED it!
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on 31 October 2017
My Brother as a pink squiggle. It makes me smile
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on 23 October 2017
At present another classic that was for a present
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on 6 July 2017
Mr Messy great story, just right for younger people
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on 29 November 2017
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on 27 October 2015
The kindle edition is very disappointing - no effort seems to have been put into making it work on a tablet. The text is very small.
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