Happy Birthday Molly: A Springtime Story
Illustrations by Nick Backes
Vignettes by Keith Skeen and Renee Graef
Ages 7 to 12
Pleasant Company, 2000, 0-937295-37-X
Molly is very excited because an English girl – an evacuee from London – is coming to live with her family for a while. Best of all Emily will be with them when Molly has her birthday. It isn’t long after Emily’s arrival that Molly begins to feel that perhaps things are not going to work out as planned. Emily is very quiet and shy and does not seem to be interested in being Molly’s friend. At school she is aloof and cool with Molly and her classmates.
It is only when there is a surprise blackout drill that Molly finally begins to understand that Emily went through a great deal when she lived in London. Unlike Molly Emily had very real war experiences. It is hard for Emily to get used to how different life is in America and similarly it is hard for Molly to fully comprehend how much Emily has lost. Slowly but surely the two girls find common ground and though there are misunderstandings at times, they become firm friends.
For many living in America during the war years, it was hard to fully appreciate what it was like to live in the places that were under occupation or that were being attacked by the Axis forces. For children the Blitz in London was a devastating experience to live through and they often resented how easy life was for the “Yanks” when everyone else was having such a terrible time. However, though America was not being bombed and though rationing was not as harsh as it was in Britain and Europe, American children were still having to see their fathers and brothers go off to war, they still had to deal with having their mothers and sisters going to work for the first time, and they still lived with anxiety and worry on a daily basis.
This fourth book in the Molly series does a superb job at showing how the Americans and the English had a lot to learn from one another as they worked, fought, and played together during the war years.
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