By Author / Illustrator

Emily Gravett



Age range(s)



Pan Macmillan




Paperback / softback




Winner of the Independent Bookshop Week Picture Book Award 2017.

From the creator of Meerkat Mail and Dogs, comes a very funny rhyming woodland story about the perils of being too tidy.

Pete the badger likes everything to be neat and tidy at all times, but what starts as the collecting of one fallen leaf escalates and ends with the complete destruction of the forest! Will Pete realise the error of his ways and set things right?

Lush foliage and delightful characters abound in this cautionary tale of overenthusiastic neatness that delivers its message of environmental preservation with subtlety and humour. The freshness of the illustrations and the many comic details make this a very special book. Once you enter this forest, you'll never want to leave.

Emily Gravett's engaging woodland creatures will appeal to fans of such classics as The Animals of Farthing Wood and The Wind in the Willows and the rhythmic, rhyming text is perfect for reading aloud.



Deep in the forest, Pete, a badger with a fondness for keeping things, clean, tidy and just so, is on a mission - to rid the forest of mess. It all begins quiet innocently 'tidying' the flowers by snipping off petals that do no match; 'tidying' fox by untangling the knots in his fur, one by one; and 'tidying' the birds by arranging them by size before giving them a good scrub in the bath. Pete picked up stray sticks and polished dull rocks. He rubbed scrubbed and scoured. But with the onset of autumn, and the falling leaves making a mess everywhere, Pete had to take drastic action! With every leaf in the forest bundled into bin bags (which piled up into a small mountain), Pete was still unhappy: the trees were bare and scrappy. They had to go! However, soon enough, a flood brings mud, which Pete just had to tidy up too. No leaves, no trees, no mud, no mess - pretty soon, with the forest had been tidied away beneath a smooth layer of concrete. Everything was perfect neat and practically perfect. There was just one small problem: Pete had completely cleaned the forest away, there was nothing left, including his front door! Pete soon realises the error of his ways and sets about rectifying his mistakes. The other animals lend a paw, a claw and a beak. They dig and they plant until everything is back, just as it had always been (but less ordered and not quite as clean). Written in rhyme, which bounces from page to page, this story carries a powerful message about meddling in the natural world. For older children, this playful tale could be a launch pad for looking at the real consequences of deforestation across the world and the work of organisations such as the Forestry Commission. The illustrations, bright and lively, are filled with details. The animals' expressions are delightful and add another layer to the story. Much discussion could be gleaned from the illustration of the picnicing animals on the final page: is everything as peaceful as it seems? What would happen in the next minute, hour, day after the snapshot in the illustration? At the end of the story, we see that the best way to keep the forests tidy is to clean up the rubbish and things that should not be there. Children could explore the effects of littering. This could be within their town or be applied to a forests, rivers, oceans or even Space! This book can be used in so many ways to inspire discussion and exploration, but whatever you do - please keep it tidy! Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Torie Walton, school librarian.

Suggested Reading Age 5+


Other titles