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This Is the House That Was Tidy & Neat
written by Teri Sloat, illustrated by R.W. Alley
Holt, 2005

Reviews

Booklist: As the title suggests, the text reprises the rhythm and pattern of “The House That Jack Built”, thought with a little more originality and narrative structure than most other picture books inspired by the nursery rhyme. Left with their nanny, a girl and a boy wave good-bye as their mother departs one morning. They retire to the house, where the nanny hauls the laundry upstairs and soon falls asleep. Alley’s endearing ink and watercolor illustrations place the action in an Edwardian setting, where the prim propriety of the household at the story’s beginning makes the ensuing havoc all the more comical. Great fun!

The Children’s Hour: Notable Books 2005: When Mom leaves for the day, the children and animals experience a series of wacky events involving crumbs, drips, splatters, and spills. The neat and tidy house that Mom left is now a mess. Dad comes home, and with the housekeeper’s help, the house again is tidy and neat. Told in cumulative rhyme.
Ingram Library Services: This jolly cumulative tale, set in Edwardian times, depicts a household of two parents, two children, a housekeeper, a dog and a cat, and a mouse. In the morning, the two well-scrubbed children wave their mother off on the trolley going downtown. Immediately after, everything turns to chaos. The rhymes are clever and roll off the tongue, the page turns are well-spaced, and this is a book with lots of appeal for reading out loud.

About the Book

When I first wrote this book I had come home to a very messy house after traveling. There was a new puppy in the house and everyone had been so busy playing with the new puppy (that I knew NOTHING about, by the way!) that the mess in the house, on the counter, from the puppy, had built up for three days. I was not a happy mother!
So I wrote a story about the messy house. When I sent it to my editor, she said it sounded like I was a little angry and maybe I should wait a while.
Two years later, I rewrote the story and had great fun. Besides, by then we had a deal in our house when I traveled. The house would look like it did when I left, and if I came home late my husband would fix dinner. So the happy mom at the end of the book is me, and the dad who cooks dinner is my husband, Bob. (And he is a wonderful cook!) We keep the mouse out of the house but once in a while we hear him in the shop.

All of our kids are grown and have their own houses now, some of them are tidy and neat, and some of them are not!

I am so glad that R. W. Alley illustrated the book. He gave it a whole different look than I could have. You should ask him if he likes to cook dinner.

Teacher Activities

Thanks to Mission Ave School in Sacramento, here is an idea for a delightfully simple performance of THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT WAS TIDY AND NEAT on stage. They turned the story into a call and response. The story while being acted out, read like this:

Left stage: “Knock, Knock!”
Right stage: “Who’s there?”
Left stage: “The Mouse”
Right stage: “The Mouse who?”
Left stage: This is the mouse who lives in the house at the end of the street…
All:….that was tidy and neat when Mom left.
Mouse enters stage and scampers around.

The scenario is repeated, when the cat comes out to sneak up on the mouse, etc. The story is told with one actor taking the part of each character in the book.

Class books can be formed with different themes on the same format. Examples I have seen are:
THIS IS THE ROOM THAT WAS TIDY AND NEAT (WHEN THE TEACHER LEFT)
THIS IS THE SCHOOL THAT WAS TIDY AND NEAT (WHEN THE KIDS LEFT)
THIS IS THE ART THAT WAS TIDY AND NEAT (WHEN THE PAINTER LEFT)
THIS IS THE FARM THAT WAS TIDY AND NEAT (WHEN THE FARMER LEFT)

Make a bulletin board of shelves of cleaning supplies cut from magazines so that everyone has what they need to clean the house, the room, the farm, etc.

Make advertisements for cleaning products that will magically clean a house that is a mess.

 


 

© Teri Sloat 2006