This picture book tells the fictional story of Moses Feldman and Mohammed Hassan. They live at opposite ends of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
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.
Published by Charlesbridge, 2018