CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 21 . . . . February 2, 2018
In Too Much! Not Enough!, Perry provides her take on The Odd Couple. When the clock alarms goes off at 8:00 a.m. on a rainy morning, Peanut, who is more than ready to welcome the day, begins to play by jumping up and down on his upper bunk bed while Moe, the lower bunk's occupant, wants him to stop. As the pair head out into the rain to go shopping, Moe complains about Peanut's "too much splashing" while Peanut laments that there aren't enough puddles in which he can splash. Returning home at 9:00 a.m., Moe bemoans his grumbling stomach, and Peanut diagnoses Moe's problem as "Not enough breakfast!" Guided by his "not enough" approach to life, Peanut over-prepares the amount of food needed for just two people. And so the day goes as the two clean up the breakfast mess, play with toy cars, do art, make music and use building blocks, and in each situation, Moe finds a "too much" while Peanut replies with a "too little".
Moe's breaking point comes when Peanut topples a building block tower, the action resulting in a huge CRASH!. Moe responds with an even louder TOO MUCH!, and the following wordless double-spread sees Moe stepping out of the residence and into the rain with a book while Peanut sits on the floor surrounded by all of the toys and other objects he's been playing with to this point in the day. The alarm clock now reads 1:55. The next spread, also wordless, finds Peanut peeking out the window while Moe sits on a porch chair reading the book while the rain continues to fall. The now "abandoned" Peanut, recognizing that perhaps he did make "Too much noise" or played with "Too many cars" and made "Too much mess", cleans everything up while silent porch-sitting Moe misses Peanut's "contributions" to life and concludes "Not enough Peanut." Moe steps back inside where he encounters a completely tidy room and Peanut asking, "Too much?" The final page finds Moe holding Peanut and replying "Just enough".
Though I have elected to use the masculine pronoun throughout the review, there is nothing in the text or the illustrations to indicate the characters' genders. Similarly, there is no indication of the characters' family relationship. Are they siblings? Parent and child? The answers to questions of gender and family connections, however, will be unimportant to the book's juvenile listeners/readers who will simply connect with the delightful opposites who eventually find a meeting point that takes into account their opposite's perspective. (Though I do expect that many adult readers will identify with Moe and children with Peanut.)
Perry's bright, detailed cartoon-like illustrations contribute to both the storyline and to character. That Moe's bed has been made while Peanut's unmade bed is covered with toys visually reinforces the pair's differing attitudes towards life. Perry subtly signals that Moe may be close to reaching his snapping point by showing a seated, now tired-looking Moe suggesting, "Rest", while a toybox-engaged Peanut emphatically responds, "Play!" Perry's artful use of the alarm clock to indicate the passage of time was a nice touch.
Too Much! Not Enough! is a fun read, one which belongs in home and library collections.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.