Cover Image: Mel and Mo's Marvelous Balancing Act

Mel and Mo's Marvelous Balancing Act

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Member Reviews

Mel and Mo's Marvelous Balancing Act by Nicola Winstanley and illustrated by Marianne Ferrer is a sort of play-it-safe children's story about non-binary twins who argue nearly all their lives until the time arises that they share a problem they must come together to solve.

With a generally cute plot and good illustrations, I do see this as a fun children's book. For a story whose summary describes the main characters as non-binary, however, I think that the author was reaching a bit far.

The only genderfluidity discussion that this book will bring about is that which the parents explain.

No pronouns are ever used throughout the course of the story and the illustrations, unfortunately, are more like to bring about the assumption that the two main characters are girl's than anything else. Without the story's summary, I wouldn't have even known myself that this was the direction it was meant to go in. I think I would have just assumed it was a sister and a brother.

And I'm not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing, but I don't think that the initial message was portrayed obviously enough. The majority of children are not going to pick up on it at all and the discussion that this book possibly has the opportunity to bring forth is one that will only be broached if that is the parents' plan. You can't really read this book and come away, with no outside support, knowing that the main characters are non-binary.

That said, it was a cute story overall.

I appreciated the characterization of the twins and the events that they were a part of. In general, this is a story about getting past differences and working together to make each other's lives better. It had a good message and was fun to read. I do wish that the author had been a bit more blatant about the gender identities of the twins rather than leaving it up for the readers to determine from the synopsis. I feel like others would be less apt to assume gender by reading only the book itself.

I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Mel and Mo's Marvelous Balancing Act is a cute, short, story about how people can be very different but still work together and achieve something great!
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I received an arc from NetGalley for an honest review. Mel and Mo are very close as young girls, but as they grow up they have different interests and grow apart. Eventually they come back together and see that opposites attract and they can be different and same.
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Twins Mel and Mo could not be any more different.  If one likes the sun, the other likes the rain, if one likes ice cream, the other likes the cone.  As they get older their differences become more and more challenging.  Mel takes over the family umbrella business and Mo joins the circus.  When a competitor comes to town and derails the hard work Mel and Mo have accomplished, the only solution is to come together to create something amazing.

Nicola Winstanley is such a clever author.  Her books tend to be irreverent, just enough silly with a wonderful subtle message, in the case of Mel and Mo’s Marvelous Balancing Act there is a message about balance and working with differences instead of against them.  The illustrations by Marianne Ferrer are lovely.  Muted, pastel shades with lively full drawings create a nostalgic feel sending you back to the beaches and the soda shoppes of the late 1930s.  I love the summery, beach feel of this book.  It would have made a wonderful spring release, right before the delicious summertime weather it evokes
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Winstanley's picture book was a complete flop for me. I honestly do not think that people believe or insist identical twins have the same personality. This may have been as assumption a long time ago, but kids are smarter than that today. The idea that these characters are non-binary has been added as an afterthought. The story about staying true to oneself is okay, and the illustrations are okay, but nothing more. 

Thank you NetGalley and Annick Press for the opportunity to read an advance reader copy.
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Mel and Mo's Marvelous Balancing Act shares the timeless lesson of how our differences can actually help bring us together. This simple story shares about two twins who grow up and grow apart and how life brings them back together when they realize the power of working as a team. The illustrations are tasteful and add a lot to the storyline. 

To be honest, if I hadn't read the book summary beforehand, I would have had no idea that this book was also hoping to be a conversation started about gender fluidity. While there are not any pronouns shared, I would have made the assumption that these were sister based on the illustrations alone. The narrative doesn't address this topic and I think it is a bit of a misrepresentation to suggest that this is part of the storyline. 

All in all, we enjoyed this book a lot, I just think the book summary is a little confusing. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Annick Press for an advanced copy of this book.
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ARC Copy...I would say it's more of artistic romp in both illustrations + prose on twins and how they are different yet similar in how they balance each other. The illustrations are beautiful and soft in texture.
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Mel and Mo's Marvelous Balancing Act is a wonderful story of twin sisters who are polar opposites and come to find they can't stand to be with one another. But as the grow and age and search for something more, they discover that even when there is loss, your sister will always be by your side. A sweet story of working together, finding balance and being your own person all at the same time.
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Let's get something out of the way first. It's highly unlikely this book is going to "serve as an entry point for gender fluidity discussions", unless the parents push it. Mel and Mo are only non-binary insofar as the text never uses a single singular pronoun to refer to them. The way they're drawn, most readers will likely assume they identify as girls. (Yes, we need books that represent diversity, but trying to turn a book like this into a discussion about gender fluidity is a huge stretch.)

Basically, this is a cute story about a set of twins who look alike but have very different personalities and preferences. As they grow up, their differences make them argue, and when they're adults, they go their separate ways: Mel takes over the family umbrella store and Mo runs away to join the circus. Both are happy... until Theodora Tweedle comes to town with her fancy raincoats and rollerskates. Suddenly, nobody wants umbrellas anymore. And everybody's too busy skating in the rain to want to watch circus acts with poodles and unicycles. So the twins join forces to overcome their problem... and a solution is born.

The solution seems kind of anticlimactic to me. When you've got something as fanciful as Theodora Tweedle's Spectacular Raincoats and Roller Skates, you kind of expect there to be a less mundane solution to the problem at hand. The solution makes sense... but it's just not that interesting. The idea is that Mel and Mo work better together than they do apart... but, given that this is a story about identical twins, that's sort of obvious.

The illustrations are quite cute, especially the ones with Mo and the performing poodles. Though the drawing style looks simple, there are actually lots of interesting details to look at.

For what it is (a story about twins discovering that the differences that make them fight can also be what save their careers), it's a good book. I just wish it wasn't being marketed as something it really isn't. People who buy this as a gateway to discussions about gender fluidity are likely to be disappointed; there are better books out there for that purpose.
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2,5/5. An okay story, okay artwork, but it lack the little something to make it really good. It seem to have some kind of message/morale about balance in life and balance of interest with friend or family, but just not clear enough or engaging enough.
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I liked this story. Mel and Mo are identical twins who have very different opinions on pretty much everything. So much so that they spend years not speaking to one another. In the end they realize their differences bring balance to each other and it is okay to disagree. 

Cute illustrations and a cute simple story.
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