Now? Not Yet! – Gina Perry, Tundra Books, 2019 (June 4)
This story, about two friends with somewhat dissimilar personality traits, will delight young children. We first met Peanut and Moe in Gina Perry’s Too Much! Not Enough!, and they are back, this time ready to meet the challenges of a camping trip: tents, s’mores, and all the rest.
While Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie are clearly an elephant and a pig, Moe and Peanut are not so easily identified by species. Peanut looks a little like a peanut with bunny ears, while Moe’s bigger and bluer frame and long pink nose make him more like the creature of a child’s imagination. Their sometimes frustrating but ultimately resolved differences are funny and comforting at the same time.
Moe and Peanut are both looking forward to an action-packed day outdoors, but their priorities are not always in sync. Peanut wants to swim; Moe wants to hike. Then Moe needs a snack, gets them lost, and insists on putting up their tent. It’s not even a disagreement, just a seemingly unending series of interruptions, which is the way young kids often see the obstacles placed in the way of doing what they want. Eventually, the swimming happens!
Then Perry reveals that Moe isn’t just a killjoy, but is actually a wise and almost adult figure, who knows that fun has to happen in its own time, and that after the fun, there is more stuff to do. Children reading or listening to the book will understand this subtle message, as they experience the sequence of events: delaying the fun, having fun, and meeting unanticipated joys afterwards: “Now we are dry…Now we are cozy…Now we are warm…Now we are happy…”
Gina Perry’s pictures are as accessible as her text. The colors are bright, but not flashy. Green and brown plants and earth meet Peanut’s bright pink toy bunny and candy-striped floaty. Some of the characters’ outbursts erupt in oversized and neon letters.
There is a lot of activity on each page, but it isn’t frenetic. On the title page, we see Moe carefully putting the ingredients for a snack in a small plastic bag, while Peanut hangs upside down from the top of his bunk bed. The excursion is full of little surprises and distractions. A tiny worm crawls on Peanut’s ear, and both friends deal with burrs and pinecones sticking to their fur.
While adults might view those as incidental, from a kid’s perspective they are inextricable parts of the event itself. Now? Not Yet is a happy combination of child empathizing and adult perspective, where a camping trip becomes a colorful metaphor for the way that, sometimes, things just work out.