Friday, August 15, 2008

Mo and Jo: Fighting together forever by Dean Haspiel and Jay Lynch VS. No Fighting, No Biting! by Else Homelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

One of the new Toon books particularly caught my eye, since I just got a new copy of Else Homelund Minarik's classic No Fighting, No Biting!

These are both focused on sibling rivalry. In the Toon story, Mo and Jo are suddenly gifted with their favorite fighting hero's super powers - but until they work together, they can't accomplish anything. In Minarik's classic I Can Read story, two old-fashioned children squabble until their older sister tells them a series of stories about two quarrelsome little crocodiles.

The artwork in Mo and Jo is more appealing, with its sharp cartoons and easy to follow panels. Maurice Sendak's illustrations for No Fighting are sparse but lively, although the old-fashioned dress and setting of the children may turn off some readers.

However, Minarik's story is highly superior to Haspiel and Lynch's Toon book. Mo and Jo fight pointlessly and continuously until the evil lizard's taunt makes them realize they must work together to defeat him. This sudden change of heart is unbelievable and the general storyline - the mailman suddenly turns out to be a superhero, gives his powerful costume to two infantile children, and their big "save the world moment" is saving a hippo balloon in a parade.

In Minarik's stories-within-the-story, the baby crocodiles work together grudgingly when they must, but it's a learning experience all around - they don't always get along, but they don't always fight either. The two children don't immediately learn their lesson and become models of deportment - they're still squeezing (but not fighting or biting!) when the stories end.

Verdict: Although more children may be attracted to the modern art of Mo and Jo, Minarik's stories will prove more satisfying in the end. I recommend both.

Mo and Jo
ISBN: 978-0979923852; Published September 2008 by Toon books; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

No fighting No biting
ISBN:978-0808526605; Published 1958 by HarperCollins (various editions still in print); Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library; Purchased for my personal collection 

No comments: