Identical twins prove the value of compromise.
Although Mel and Mo look alike, the identical twins have little in common. An escalation in contrast that begins with Mel’s preference for reading a book inside on a rainy day and Mo’s partiality to enjoying catching rays on a sunny day ultimately finds the twins disagreeing all the time and growing further apart. Clues in the patterned illustrations hint at the twins’ future—and separate—professions. Mel takes over the family umbrella business, while Mo runs away to join a circus, becoming a unicyclist with performing poodles on a high-wire act. Most picture books about twins would end here, celebrating their individuality, but Winstanley continues this story with another theme. After both twins find years of success, Theodora Tweedle’s Spectacular Raincoats and Roller Skates comes to town, and soon no one wants umbrellas or to watch a unicyclist. Mel fails to sell bigger umbrellas, and Mo’s increasingly elaborate tricks all end in falling. But one day when Mel visits Mo, who is struggling to stay balanced, the twins realize what the act needs—an umbrella! They discover they can combine their different strengths to make a strong team, and even invite Theodora to join them for a brand-new Roller-Skate Umbrella Circus. The twins, who are white, are not identified with gender-specific names, clothes, physical features, or pronouns.
Mel’s and Mo’s seemingly silly professions make for an amusing approach to teamwork. (Picture book. 4-7)