Thursday, March 27, 2014

Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell

Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow

Rating: 5 stars

Molly Lou Melon is inspired by her late grandmother to forego fancy dolls and action figures, store-bought dollhouses, and plastic race cars.  Instead, her grandmother used her imagination and the stuff on hand to create toys.  So Molly Lou Melon does just that.  She creates dolls out of the flowers and leaves and twigs in her backyard, she designs a dollhouse with the weeping willow in the yard, and she whips up a turbo race car with a garage full of boxes and paper and wheels and such.

Then one day, she gets a new neighbor, Gertie.  Though there's no mention of it in the text, in the illustrations the reader sees that Gertie always has a crutch by her side.  Quietly, the author and illustrator tell us that Gertie is physically disabled.  Right away after meeting, Gertie complains that she is "bored, bored, BORED!"  So Molly Lou Melon invites her over to play.

At first, Gertie brings over her fancy dolls and action figures, store-bought dollhouses, and plastic race cars.  She is quickly blown away by the hand-made stuff that Molly Lou Melon has dreamed up and created.  After inviting Molly Lou Melon over to watch some shows on her big-screen TV, only to be turned down by Molly Lou Melon because Molly Lou Melon is watching the clouds on her SKY-wide screen, Gertie ditches her electronic and store-bought stuff and joins Molly Lou in the land of imagination, creativity, and make believe.

A sweet story, illustrated by the fantastic David Catrow, about two people who don't seem very compatible but with time and openness and a constant, warm welcome to join them in their world (while respecting the world that the other lives in), a friendship blossoms.  I love how, on the second to last page, Gertie shows up on Molly Lou Melon's doorstep with her own handmade doll with hollyhock skirt and violets for hair.  Now it is Molly Lou Melon's turn to be blown away.

Three cheers for sweet friendships and fewer store-bought toys, and loads of time to create and imagine and just...PLAY with those friends.

P.S.  This is a sequel to Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon which is also really good.  Stand Tall is about how Molly Lou reacts when she gets teased for her small stature.  The two books are ones that are recommended for children with disabilities and/or used to teach empathy for children whose bodies or minds are slightly different from able-bodied kids.  These are definitely some good books to have around and talk about!

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