A witty, sophisticated book of opposites.
“Too big”: A dismayed big-game hunter looks down at three colossal footprints while his porters chuckle at his discomfiture. “Too small”: A bearded castaway leans against a palm tree on an islet that’s just barely big enough. “Too late”: A quartet of dinosaurs, bags packed, dolefully watches the ark disappearing over the horizon. “Too early”: A rooster crows, silhouetted in the window against a starry night sky, with an irate would-be sleeper glaring at him from bed. Not for children just learning opposites, these illustrations invite older kids to study visual irony—sometimes with guidance. While most kids will get “too heavy/too light” (a stork struggles to carry a baby elephant in a sling; a child is carried aloft by a just-bought balloon), other images may require some explanation. “Too noisy” depicts a couple of mimes, aghast, with a squalling baby; “too quiet” presents a scuba diver in the embrace of a giant octopus, trying in vain to signal another diver, who’s swimming away. The cartoons’ hip, limited palette and dry wit will appeal to adults, but the images never lose sight of the child audience, as is manifest in a couple of quite funny underwear-related gags (“too loose/too tight”).
With whole stories unfurling in each image, the book has potential for classroom use as well as for solo enjoyment. (Picture book. 6-10)