Moses Feldman, a Jewish boy, lives at one end of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, while Mohammed Hassan, a Muslim boy, lives at the other. One day they meet at Sahadi's market while out shopping with their mothers and are mistaken for brothers. A friendship is born, and the boys bring their families together to share rugelach and date cookies in the park as they make a wish for peace.
A sweet story of cross-cultural and inter-faith friendship from prolific American children's author Jane Breskin Zalben is paired with gorgeous multimedia artwork from expat Iranian illustrator Mehrdokht Amini in A Moon for Moe and Mo. The narrative encourages the reader to compare and contrast the two young boys - one Jewish, one Muslim - and to examine the ways that they differ, and more importantly, the many ways they are the same. The illustrations alternate between a dual perspective, in which the two main characters' stories are depicted on the facing pages of a two-page spread, and a unified approach, in which their stories join, and are depicted together, across both the pages of a spread. In this way, text and image work together to emphasize the central theme of two tales becoming one. Recipes for the cookies made by both mothers are included at the rear, offering young readers the opportunity (together with their parents!) of sampling the treats mentioned in the story. The only discordant note is the inclusion of the greeting "Eid Mubarak" in the text of the story, as this is a salutation used at Eid-al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, whereas the events here seems to occur at the beginning of the month. Leaving aside that error, I would highly recommend this one to anyone looking for stories about friendship across religious lines, as well as to those searching for picture-books set in Brooklyn, or featuring Rosh Hashanah and/or Ramadan.
This is a lovely story about a friendship across differences and finding the similarities that bind us together. The illustrations are interesting with a collage-like look, but are not exactly to my taste. Backmatter describes with greater detail some of the holiday traditions touched upon in the story, along with recipes for holiday treats.
One day when their mothers were shopping at the same grocery store, Moses, called Moe, met Mohammed, called Mo. The store owner thought the boys looked so much alike they might be twins, or at least cousins. They also behaved similarly (much to the consternation of their watchful mothers).
Weeks later, each family was preparing for the holidays - the Feldmans for Rosh Hashanah and the Hassans for Ramadan, and each mother took her son to the same park to give the antsy boys a chance to dispel some of their energy. (The author explains in a note that Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan occur at the same time roughly every thirty years.) Moe and Mo were happy to see each other, and immediately ran off to play together, with the mothers becoming frantic over their missing sons. When the mothers found them, they hugged one another, and all agreed to meet again.
The book concludes with the two families feasting together in the park. An explanation of both the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah and the Muslim holiday of Ramadan follows in an Afterword, as well as recipes for sweet treats common to each holiday.
The illustrator, Mehrdokht Amini, uses collage and a rich, vivid palette that shows Brooklyn as a colorful and lively place. Realistic touches reflect the celebration of and respect for both the differences and commonalities among cultures.
Evaluation: This lovely book might be seen as an expression of the Jewish saying, “From your lips to God’s ears.” One can only hope there are real stories like this about the fundamental sameness of all human beings to counter all the polarization and hate in the world. I was reminded of the movie "Notting Hill," when Julia Roberts, playing the Oscar-winning actress Anna Scott, tells “commoner” Hugh Grant, “I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” Moe and Mo are just two young kids, who like each other and want to play with each other. A great message for readers aged 3 and up.