TOO MUCH! NOT ENOUGH!

From the Moe and Peanut series

Good spirits takes the solemnity out of differences.

They could be Felix and Oscar of The Odd Couple, except Perry has made one into what looks like an animated peanut (named, appropriately, Peanut) and the other a tidy refrigerator with Jimmy Durante’s beezer.

Moe likes things on the controlled, neat side; Peanut likes things in constant motion. “Too much splashing” is met with “not enough puddles.” “Too much food” is countered with “Not enough syrup.” The two of them go back and forth, one unnerved by the gathering chaos, the other ready to test the limits of chaos theory. But it is rather fun. Moe may be a bit of a neatnik, but the pink-nosed, snaggle-toothed blue monster isn’t oppressive about it, and Peanut is never an in-your-face pest—actually Peanut’s always looking for the silver lining to turn Moe’s grumbles (though Moe rarely, rarely has a grumpy face) into joy: “Too much mess.” “Not enough bubbles!” That is what separates this book about differences—the mood is upbeat. Even when Moe blows a fuse and goes out into the night to study the stars (though it is raining) and get away from the mayhem, readers know common ground is not far away and that after Peanut has cleaned the place up—inquiring upon Moe’s return if it is “Too much” tidiness—all will be well.

Good spirits takes the solemnity out of differences. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-91950-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

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