Jane & Mizmow


Written and Illustrated by Matthew S. Armstrong

HarperCollins, 2011

Jane’s best friend is Mizmow.

The plot in a nutshell:  A girl and a monster become friends

In the opening pictures, Jane finds a hat under a tree and when she picks it up, a big cuddly monster drops out of it. He picks her up and pops her in his mouth, then spits her back out. She’s mad, then she smiles and kisses him. They become best friends, but it isn’t easy when they don’t have much in common. For instance, Jane rakes leaves and Mizmow eats them. When it gets cold, Jane puts her cap in the dryer to warm up, but Mizmow gets into a tug-o-war with her over it, causing it to unravel. They get angry at each other and end up not speaking to each other. Jane tries to be okay by herself and Mizmow tries to find a new friend. Mizmow knits her a new cap and Jane rakes up a pile of leaves for him. They reunite in the leaf pile and he helps her get rid of the leaves. They end the books as friends again.

Leaf eating monsters are welcome at my house anytime, especially if they also eat pine cones.

Leaf eating monsters are welcome at my house anytime, especially if they also eat pine cones.

This is the first picture book from author/illustrator Matthew S. Armstrong, who first drew these two characters when his wife asked him to paint her a watercolor picture. The story is told mostly through the pictures, which are put together in graphic novel style. There is minimal text and sometimes it seems as though the text is almost a distraction from the pictures, which seem to carry the bulk of the story on their own. Mizmow is a fun and whimsical character, with erratic behavior that Jane seems to embrace for the most part. The on-again/off-again nature of childhood friendship is very apparent throughout the book and it’s very sweet to see how each of them goes about making things right at the end. I think this one would be a big hit with kids.

And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that friendship sometimes takes a little work and negotiation during its tough moments, but good friends are worth the effort.


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